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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Area legislator advocated for Ohio road work

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROEVILLE, Ohio - Fred Deering, 86, a state legislator for 20 years who represented parts of Lucas and Wood counties and Erie and Ottawa counties, died Monday in Providence Care Center, Sandusky.

He was in declining health since Thanksgiving, his son Daryl said.

A Democrat, Mr. Deering was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1972. He was elected to 10 terms and retired at the end of 1992.

He was steadfast in his support of a gasoline tax to build and maintain highways and bridges.

"The roads and bridges we travel on every day were built on the efforts of Fred Deering," said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, who from 1999-2009 represented the district Mr. Deering had.

Darrell Opfer, who succeeded Mr. Deering, said his mentor "was not afraid to tell constituents and other officials, including governors, what he thought and why he thought certain things should be done."

Late in his legislative career, he was dubbed "Freeway Fred" because of his efforts - ultimately unsuccessful - to remove tolls from the Ohio Turnpike.

His district included eastern Lucas County when work on Maumee Bay State Park began in earnest.

He retired in 2006 after 13 years as an Erie MetroParks commissioner. He was a member of the Perkins Board of Education from 1952-1960, his first elective office, and helped establish a township high school. He was an Erie County commissioner from 1961-72 and oversaw the building of water and sewer systems, airports, and a nursing home.

"In Erie County, he was the most important elected official in the last half century," Mr. Redfern said.

Born in Erie County's Oxford Township, he was a graduate of Monroeville High School and attended Ohio State University. He remained president of Deering Farms, the grain and poultry enterprise he built.

His first wife, Dorothy, died in November, 1998.

Surviving are his wife, Margaret, whom he married April 1, 2000; sons, Daryl, Steve, and Brian Deering; daughter, Diane Nolte; stepsons, John and Ron Bruens; stepdaughter, Trisha Meese; 15 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Groff Funeral Home, Sandusky, after 4 p.m. Friday. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. John's United Church of Christ in Oxford Township, where he was a member. The family suggests tributes to the Huron River Greenway MetroPark; James H. McBride Arboretum in care of Erie Metroparks, or the church.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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