OTTAWA LAKE - Pamela Dressel, 64, who was the very model of organization as the elected supervisor of Monroe County's Whiteford Township and as her family's historian and chief photographer, died Wednesday in St. Luke's Hospital after an apparent heart attack.
Mrs. Dressel went out to dinner Wednesday evening with a group of friends at the Bluewater Grille in Maumee.
"Everything was fine. They were having fun," said her brother-in-law Ken Dressel. "When she went out to get into her car, as she was sitting there, she collapsed."
She had a history of heart problems. But she presided over a meeting of the township board Tuesday and, last week, worked the raffle table at her church, St. Anthony, in Temperance, where she was a eucharistic minister.
"This was so sudden, so unexpected," her brother-in-law said.
Mrs. Dressel was in her ninth year as Whiteford Township supervisor after re-election in November to a third four-year term.
She was elected as supervisor, without opposition, in 2000, replacing Robert Schnipke, who did not seek re-election as township supervisor. She'd been township assessor the previous 12 years.
As assessor, she kept track of all the properties and property assessments.
"From that perspective, she got to learn a lot about the township, so when the supervisor decided to retire, he suggested she run for the office, and he fully supported her," her husband, Ron, said.
Township Clerk Bernice Heidelberg said Mrs. Dressel was known for her organizational skills and she strived to show courtesy and respect to township residents.
"She worked diligently and she was very responsible in her duties as supervisor," she said.
The calendars she kept were so complete, "you could use them as a journal of life in the township," said sister-in-law Larraine Dressel, who is a township trustee.
For the first time, last campaign season, Mrs. Dressel put up signs, her husband said.
She won in a landslide, her sister-in-law said.
"People just came out to support her, sometimes people we never would have thought cared one way or another," her sister-in-law said. "She was well thought of because she was always honest, straightforward, but she was caring and tried to work with people and work out situations and problems."
Water was one problem she was working on. A topic at Tuesday's meeting was getting Toledo water to the township, and "she was on top of it," her sister-in-law said.
She was proud, too, of her role in the new township park and in the township's paving program.
"She genuinely cared for the area and the people who live here and wanted to do the best for them," her husband said.
She was equally organized for family. A nephew is getting married next month. But it was Mrs. Dressel who sent out the invitations, "because she had all the addresses," her sister-in-law said. "She was just a born organizer."
She was family genealogist and an amateur historian. She wrote the history of St. Anthony Church for its centennial in 2007 and she co-wrote with Madeline Fetzer a history of the township for the nation's bicentennial in 1976.
And she made sure there was a proper pictorial record of family events.
"You always knew that if there was a gathering, Pam was there with the camera," her husband said. "You had to pose for two photos, so she had enough to distribute to everybody. That was her excuse."
Their nephew was slain Toledo police Detective Keith Dressel, whose parents were Ron's brother, Michael, and his wife, Larraine, the township trustee. Detective Dressel was killed Feb. 21, 2007, while on duty in North Toledo.
Mrs. Dressel was born in Teaneck, N.J., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., and was a graduate of Boca Ciega High School. She and her husband met while he was stationed in Florida in the Air Force.
In 1973, they moved to the Whiteford Township house where her husband grew up. She became a volunteer for Camp Fire USA.
She also became active in the Monroe County Republican Women and attended several national conventions. That inspired her work with the township.
"We certainly have a conservative outlook on life, and she saw [public service] as an outlet for that," her husband said.
Surviving are her husband, Ronald, whom she married Jan. 6, 1968; daughters, Kimberly Watson and Holly Dressel; son, Scott Dressel; sister, Nancy Thompson; brother, Scott Wallace, and three grandsons.
The body will be in the Bedford Funeral Chapel, Temperance, after 2 p.m. today, with a Scripture service at 7 tonight in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Anthony Church, Temperance, where the body will be after 9 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the church.