Delmer “Dale” Roush of Oregon, an Army veteran of World War II who ran a United Auto Workers children’s summer camp in Michigan during the 1950s and 1960s, died Saturday at Mercy St. Charles Hospital. He was 88.
He suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and died of a kidney infection, according to his son, Richard Roush.
Mr. Roush worked at the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo for 30 years, retiring around 1977, and devoted the rest of his life to an assortment of hobbies that included photography, welding, fishing, and building toys.
He went into the Army shortly after the war started, possibly when he was still 17, according to his son and daughter, Linda Miller. He was discharged after the war ended in 1945. He was a corporal and a medical corpsman in the China-Burma-India theater.
“He talked about it all the time,” Richard Roush said. A popular story was when the soldiers on their own time in India went tiger hunting, which was not legal.
“He and his buddies went tiger hunting. They actually ran into a tiger and they ran the other way,” Mrs. Miller said. “He hated the war, but he also had a lot of fond memories. Those were your friends. He enjoyed talking about his war days.”
Mrs. Miller said her dad worked in prisoner-of-war and psychiatric wards and sometimes did medical work such as bandaging and stitching wounds.
As the director of the UAW Local 12’s Richard T. Gosser Summer Camp near Onsted, Mich., he was given a cottage where the family spent every summer, starting about 1954 and ending in 1968, when he wanted to do something different.
Mr. Roush and his wife owned a cottage on Lake Erie where the Maumee Bay State Park is located. Richard Roush said the cottage was on leased land that was claimed by the state when the park was built.
He said his father made his own fishing tackle, farmed a half-acre garden, and developed his own photos. He made the conversion to digital photography and had about 75,000 pictures stored on his computer when he died, the younger Mr. Roush said.
For a time he had a welding kit and had a business repairing machinery, such as bulldozers. He bought a mowing tractor and had jobs mowing commercial properties. On one occasion, he bought an abandoned tractor, fixed it, attached a snow plow, and sold it for a $400 profit.
“He did about everything that you could think of that was mechanical,” Richard Roush said. He said his father was “fun and interesting” and sometimes took the children fishing on Lake Erie late at night.
During the 1980s he built and sold black-powder cannons capable of shooting everything from 45-caliber bullets to 2-pound balls, though he usually just fired paper wads for sound effects on the Fourth of July.
“We hardly had to buy our kids any toys,” Mrs. Miller said. “He was always making them. Little toys, little tractors, little cars, little stools to sit on. Each child had a turtle to sit on. He was very good with his hands.”
Mrs. Miller said although Mr. Roush was not Catholic, he kept up with church activities for their mother and helped raise the children in that religion. She said her parents attended an organ club in Woodville because her mother played organ and piano.
Richard Roush said his father stayed healthy until he was about 85, never even turning gray, but developed COPD after a bout of pneumonia. Mr. Roush’s wife, the former Joan Mary Roberts, died three years ago.
Delmer Roush is survived by his son, Richard; daughters, Linda Miller and Judy Roush; sister, Gerlda Gerity; three grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. today at the Hoeflinger-Bolander Funeral Home. A prayer service is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Ignatius Church.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.