MILLBURY -- Robert W. Newell, a longtime insurance claims investigator who as a state trooper received the Ohio Highway Patrol's highest award, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 81.
He had congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and diabetes, his wife, Janis, said.
"He was a very strong, proud, independent person," his wife said. "It was very hard for him when he got sick, because he had to rely on other people."
Mr. Newell of Millbury retired in 1993 from Western Reserve and Lightning Rod mutual insurance companies. Much of his career was with the Republic Franklin Insurance Co. and he became a regional claims manager.
He investigated auto, home, and business claims. He was a boater and was a specialist in marine claims. Years ago, when a tornado destroyed homes in the area, he felt no need to investigate. He grabbed his checkbook instead. He found his clients easily. Property owners had posted signs bearing the name of their insurer.
"He just looked at their homes and said, 'You have a total loss,' and wrote them a check.
"He liked helping people," his wife said. "There are so many insurance companies that don't treat people fairly. He said, 'I can look in the mirror any day and know I treated people fairly.' "
He was a former president of the Toledo Claims Association and helped rewrite its bylaws and constitution.
His insurance career grew out of his interest in investigations while a trooper.
He joined the Ohio Highway Patrol in 1952 after Navy service aboard an aircraft carrier and a job at the former Rossford Ordnance Depot.
In 1956, he was the first Toledoan to receive the patrol's annual O.W. Merrell Award for meritorious service. He was honored for his part in capturing three fugitives during a gun battle in which Lucas County sheriff's Deputy Ray Westover was killed.
He served at the Toledo, Kenton, Findlay, Perrysburg, and Walbridge posts. He was assigned to the Bellefontaine, Ohio, post in 1959, but the move would have caused a hardship for his young family, and he resigned.
He was born June 28, 1930, in Toledo to Kate and Homer Newell. He was a graduate of the former Macomber Vocational High School and played on the baseball team.
Formerly an Oregon resident, he had been vice president of its athletic commission.
He coached the Coy Orioles, an Oregon Pee Wee baseball team on which his sons played. He later was a baseball and softball umpire and taught would-be umpires. He was decisive, but he and his umpiring partner were seldom challenged.
"They were good. Everybody knew where they stood," his son Mike said.
Mr. Newell and his wife lived in Lakeland, Fla., for a decade in retirement, and he was an umpire for high school baseball games there. He was a founding member of Eaglebrooke Golf and Country Club. He also was a volunteer to the security detail at the LPGA futures tournament and the air show held in the Lakeland area.
He and his first wife, Marjorie, married June 19, 1954. She died Nov. 6, 1975.
Surviving are his wife, Janis, whom he married July 26, 1978; sons, Michael, Mark, and Steven; daughters, Karen Brown, Diane McDougle, and Laurie Holmes; 14 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in the Freck Funeral Chapel, Oregon, where visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Sunday. The family suggests tributes to the Oregon recreation department.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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