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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2011

Fred C. Bringe, 1938-2011: Ottawa Co. farmer also director for Genoa Bank

MARTIN, Ohio -- Fred C. Bringe, a leader in rural Ottawa County whose livelihood was farming, died Sunday in his home in Allen Township. He was 72.

He had lung cancer, but continued to farm until he began chemotherapy in October. His son Kevin runs the farm, "but farmers don't retire," his daughter, Kimberly, said. "They work as much as they ever did."

Mr. Bringe grew corn, wheat, and soybeans. "Farming was a part of him. It was his way of life," his daughter said. "You work hard and you reap the rewards. That's what he always taught us."

He was 22 when his father died and he was left to run the farm. He worked for no other enterprise. "This was his income," his daughter said. "You have to be smart to be a farmer. His father taught him well."

He was a leader, even on the farm: He didn't jump to conclusions, and he listened first, a nephew, Jere Witt, said.

"He taught me how to deal with issues and problems," said Mr. Witt, Ottawa County administrator, who in his youth worked on the farm.

His father was a director of Genoa Bank, and Mr. Bringe was elected to the board in March, 1977. He became chairman in 1997. He knew the community, which contributed to the bank's homestyle atmosphere, Mr. Witt said.

"His leadership as chairman, that was a big positive for the bank," Mr. Witt said.

Mr. Bringe also was on the boards of the Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District; the Ottawa County Conservation League; Luckey Farmers, and the former Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service.

He was born July 4, 1938, to Lillian and Clarence Bringe. He was a 1956 graduate of Genoa High School. He was a lifelong member of Zion United Methodist Church, Elliston, Ohio, where he met his wife, Margie, whom he always called, "Sunshine."

Surviving are his wife, whom he married March 4, 1961; sons, Clarence and Kevin; daughter, Kimberly Traver; sisters, Marion Rudes, Margie Greuel, and Becky Jensen, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Zion United Methodist Church, where the body will be after 10 a.m. Arrangements are by the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home, Millbury Chapel.

The family suggests tributes to the church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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