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Published: Monday, 11/8/2010

Franklin J. Ott, 1924-2010: Berkey man ran family business for 63 years

Franklin J. Ott, 86, a resident of Berkey who operated a family-owned farm implement dealership there for 63 years, died of cancer Friday in his home.

Mr. Ott, whose interests involved fishing, sports, and racehorses, was born March 21, 1924, to Fred and Eleanor Ott.

His father, Fred, had opened the John Deere dealership in 1920, and the business continues under Frank Ott's three sons, Darrel, Tom, and Joe.

Mr. Ott graduated from Sylvania's Burnham High School in 1942, where he lettered in football and track.

His son Joe said his father remained a competitive athlete after serving in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.

He played football for the Sylvania Merchants and fast-pitch softball for the Federation team in the 1950s.

"He played some semipro baseball," son Joe said.

When his playing days wound down in the 1960s, he began coaching Little League baseball and slow-pitch softball teams, he said.

Golf remained a favorite activity, his son said, noting that his father shot a hole in one at Whiteford Valley in the 1980s.

Although work at the John Deere dealership entailed 80-hour weeks, Mr. Ott found time each Monday night to gather his buddies to fish the three-acre pond the family owned.

His most memorable catch at the pond was an 18-inch largemouth bass that still had an intact blue gill inside its belly.

His son Joe said it took a trip to Acapulco, Mexico, to land another memorable fish. That catch, a giant sailfish, was mounted and hung on his office wall.

Mr. Ott and his wife of 49 years, Lucille, traveled to the Mexican vacation spot in February for 30 years, Joe said. She died in 1996.

Frank Ott and his brother Merlin took over their father's farm-implement dealership in 1955, and Frank served as vice president and later as president.

He became sole owner in 1977 and continued working until the time of his death. In the last six months he visited the office less frequently but remained involved, offering advice and guidance, Joe said.

"He was my father for 51 years, but he was my boss for 32 years," Joe Ott said.

Frank Ott was part owner of horses that raced at Raceway Park in Toledo and at a track in Detroit. His involvement in horses lasted about six years, his son said.

Mr. Ott was a 40-year member of the Wauseon Elks, a member of Catholic War Vets Post 306, and a lifelong member of Holy Trinity Parish in Assumption in Fulton County.

He is survived by daughters Carol Cady and Diana Mack, sons Darrel, Tom, and Joe Ott, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and a sister, Laverne Okos.

A funeral Mass will be at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Assumption at 10:30 a.m. Monday, where the body will be an hour beforehand. Reeb Funeral Home in Sylvania is handling arrangements.

Memorials are suggested to Holy Trinity Catholic Church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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