Donald Covrett, a former Ottawa Hills and Sylvania Township firefighter who skippered a sailboat in a solo race on Lake Erie from Toledo to Buffalo in 1982, died Wednesday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. He was 89.
Mr. Covrett's wife, Carol Covrett, said she didn't know the cause of the death. She said he had been in declining health the last several years.
For many years, Mr. Covrett of Sylvania was a firefighter on the Ottawa Hills Fire Department and at the same time was a volunteer on the Sylvania Township Fire Department, where he rose to the the rank of captain.
After being seriously injured in a car accident in 1968, Mr. Covrett left Ottawa Hills and went to work in the maintenance department of Sylvania Township, his wife said. However, he continued with the fire department on rescue runs and conducted fire safety inspections, she said.
A trained scuba diver, he was on the department dive team for most of his career with the township and did underwater work for area police and fire agencies. He retired from Sylvania Township in 1985.
In 1982, Mr. Covrett, then 59, became the oldest skipper in the 221-mile Lake Erie solo race sponsored by the Jolly Roger Sailing Club. She said he enjoyed the challenge of competing in the endurance race.
When he finished the contest in Buffalo, he called his wife from a pay phone and she took a Greyhound bus to join him in the return trip back to Toledo. She said they owned several sailboats through the years.
"We loved sailing," she said.
Mr. Covrett attended DeVilbiss High School, where he was a standout football player and named to all-state team in 1942.
He joined the U.S. Navy after high school and was aboard the USS Tuscaloosa in June, 1944, when the cruiser supported troops in the Normandy invasion.
Mrs. Covrett said his love for the water was among the reasons he chose the Navy over the other armed services.
"He didn't like to wear ties and he didn't want to sleep in a foxhole," she said.
His daughter, Nancy Fox, said he had several jobs after he returned from the service and before he became an Ottawa Hills firefighter, a position he held for 16 years.
During the 1950s, Mr. Covrett obtained his pilot's license and shared ownership of a single-engine plane.
As a young man, Mr. Covrett was on the West Toledo Y Chess Club and was once matched up against the famous and ultimate world champion player Bobby Fischer, Mrs. Covrett said.
In retirement, Mr. Covrett took up downhill skiing and joined the Toledo Ski Club.
Surviving are his wife of nearly 43 years, Carol Covrett; daughter, Nancy Fox; sons, Scott and Daniel Covrett; sister, Norma Lawecki Harmon, and two grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the Reeb Funeral Home, 5712 N. Main St. Sylvania.
Services will be private.
The family suggests tributes to Wounded Warrior Project, Topeka, or JDRF Northwest Ohio.
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