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Published: Tuesday, 12/9/2008

WW II veteran operated family farm dealership

HOLGATE, Ohio - Earl S. Stober, 86, who operated Holgate Implement Sales, a farm equipment dealership, for more than 50 years, died Saturday in Mercy Hospital of Defiance.

He suffered from pneumonia, his wife, Jean Stober, said.

Mr. Stober and his father-in-law, Lloyd Krofft, opened Holgate Implement Sales in 1951. The business is now in its third generation of family management, operated by Mr. Stober's son Jeffrey, with help from his other sons, Mark and Thomas.

For his contributions to local agriculture, Mr. Stober was inducted in 2005 into the Henry County Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Born in 1922, Mr. Stober grew up on a farm in Hardin County. He graduated from Ada High School in 1940.

He served in the Navy during World War II. During his 38 months in the service, Mr. Stober was trained as an aviation machinist, his wife said.

That mechanical knowledge and his farming background were the combination that helped fuel his career in farm equipment, she said.

When Mr. Stober came home from the war, he worked for an equipment dealer, a springboard to becoming a dealer himself, Mrs. Stober said.

His sons Jeffrey and Mark said their father passed on a love of his work - as well as advice about running the business.

"For the most part, I've adhered to those guidelines all the years I worked with him," Jeffrey Stober said of his father's strict instructions about what kind of machinery to take in on trade.

Mr. Stober also helped popularize some agricultural innovations, such as a new means of storing corn and drying it after harvesting, Jeffrey Stober said.

His business sold a whole system of both harvesting machines and dryers, Mark Stober said.

The dealership on North Keyser Street in Holgate carries equipment made by Massey Ferguson, Farmhand, New Idea, Glencoe, Top-Air, Great Plains, Unverferth, Grasshopper, Country Clipper, and others and has parts and service departments.

Mr. Stober was a 41-year member and past president of the Holgate Lions Club.

He was on the Henry County Community Improvement Corporation Board for many years.

"This is a small town. It's the backbone of a small community - everybody gets involved with the activities," Mrs. Stober said.

His son Mark said: "I think he really enjoyed the time he served with the Community Improvement Corporation. They were able to bring in new businesses. He had interests in the community's prosperity beyond agriculture."

In his spare time, Mr. Stober liked to travel and visited Alaska, Florida, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Hawaii, and Morocco.

Surviving are his wife, Jean; sons, Jeffrey, Thomas, and Mark; sister Ruth Ferguson; six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Zachrich Funeral Home, Holgate, where services will be at 11 a.m. Friday.

The family suggests tributes to the Holgate United Methodist Church, the Northwest Ohio Lions Eye Care Foundation, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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