OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Walter C. Busdiecker, the retired owner of contracting businesses in his native Woodville who for 30 years played Santa Claus, died of an apparent heart attack Thursday in his home at Sand Beach in Ottawa County's Carroll Township. He was 84.
He was in poor health the last two years, his wife, Betty, said. The couple moved to their summer place at Sand Beach in 1984.
In the 1990s, Mr. Busdiecker was a trustee with the Carroll Township Water and Sewer District during planning and construction of a water plant and distribution system, but he returned to his hometown for functions and festivals, Woodville Mayor Richard Harman said.
"He was quite a nice guy and a very popular guy in town." Mr. Harman said.
Among his attributes, "he was fair," said Carolyn Molter, who grew up across the street from him. "We all looked up to him."
"He was likeable," said RJ Molter, her husband, a longtime pharmacist in town. "He was an all-around Woodvillite."
He was well known, if unrecognized by his target audience, for acting as Santa Claus at an annual event staged by the volunteer fire department, of which he was a member.
"He was kind of built for that, and they needed somebody, and they asked him to do it," his wife said. His return appearances were an annual tradition. "That was a highlight of his year," she said.
From the late 1950s until he retired in 1983, he was owner and president of Busdiecker Inc., a mechanical contracting business in Woodville that installed ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems for factories and other large concerns, mostly in northwest Ohio — Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. and Whirlpool among them, his wife said.
He was a member of Local 50, Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. He worked at job sites in the early days of his firm. As business grew — its work force at one point numbered about 40 — he remained in the office.
In the 1960s and 1970s, he operated B & H Electrical Contractors as well.
He was a former president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Northwestern Ohio. He was a former trustee of the Local 50 health, welfare, and pension board.
He was a member of the Woodville board of education when consolidation with the Elmore district created the Woodmore Local Schools.
He also was a leading force in the creation of the multi-district vocational high school now called Penta Career Center.
He was born June 20, 1927, in Woodville to Elise and Herbert Busdiecker. He enlisted in the Navy while a senior at Woodville High School and entered the service two days after his 1945 graduation. His stateside service coincided with the end of World War II. He later was in the Naval Reserves.
When he got back, he worked for his father's plumbing and heating business. His brother, Eugene, continued the plumbing business.
He was a former member of Woodville United Methodist Church.
Surviving are his wife, Betty, whom he married Sept. 7, 1946; daughter, Jill Busdiecker; son, Jack Busdiecker; sister, Eunice Kruse; six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in the Crosser Funeral Home, Oak Harbor, where visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Sunday.
The family suggests tributes to Oak Harbor United Church of Christ, where he was a member, or a charity of the donor's choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.