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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2012

Farmer was an activist for clean water

Ivan C. Myers, Sr., 1925-2012

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ivan C. Myers, Sr., a farmer and activist for clean water and agriculture, died Thursday at Mercy St. Charles Hospital in Oregon of congestive heart failure. He was 87.

Born in Manistee, Mich., he grew up in northern Michigan on a farm. He served in the Army Air Corps in the 11th Airborne Division during World War II, flying over the Pacific.

He met his wife, Margie, in 1950 at a dance hall in downtown Toledo, where Tuesday night was "Farmer's Night," she said. "He asked me to square dance," said Mrs. Myers. "That's how we got started."

Mr. Myers was outgoing, friendly, and talkative, said his daughter, Cynthia Manship.

"He could talk to anybody," she said. "As kids, it used to drive us crazy."

Mr. Myers and his sons raised crops such as corn, wheat, and soybeans at the family farm in Oregon near Maumee Bay State Park. The farm has been in his wife's family for more than 100 years, she said.

His sons Bill and Bob have continued to run the farm with the conservation-minded values he instilled in them, said son Bill Myers.

His father was a very good teacher who passed on his passion for being outdoors, tending to agriculture, and "raising food and feeding the nation," his son said. He also stressed the importance of conservation in farming -- "trying to have the least impact possible and getting the job of agriculture done," Mr. Myers said, adding that in particular, his father was mindful of agriculture's impact on nearby Lake Erie.

Mr. Myers loved hunting, fishing, and the outdoors and was active in a number of conservation groups.

In the late 1990s he spoke out against what he saw as mixed messages from state leaders -- giving lip service to preserving farmland yet giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants to build an industrial park on fields that he said were some of the state's best crop-production acres. He said more needed to be done to keep farmland safe from suburban sprawl, according to Blade reports.

He was a past president and trustee of the Conservation Action Project, a group of northwest Ohio farmers that strives to promote agriculture while improving water and soil resources.

Mr. Myers also was a member of the Lucas County Soil & Water Conservation District board for many years and was a member of the Lucas County Farm Bureau.

He used to say of the frequent meetings he attended, "If you don't go, you won't know," said his son Bill.

In 2009, when about 30 deer were coming to Mr. Myers alfalfa fields every night to munch at the edges, Mr. Myers told The Blade, "It's OK with me. We have enough hay. We can afford to share with them."

A wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Mr. Myers was the first farmer he had heard of who took the stance that deer in his field were OK.

Mr. Myers is survived by his wife, the former Margie Beichter; daughter, Cynthia Manship, sons, Ivan, Bill, and Bob; seven grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Visitation is to be Friday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Freck Funeral Chapel, 1155 S. Wynn Rd., Oregon. Funeral services are to be at the funeral home Saturday at 10 a.m.

Contributions can be made to Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio, 82nd Airborne Division Association, Toledo Chapter, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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