Paul Saneholtz, 1929-2013

Motel owner helped form Holiday City


PIONEER, Ohio — Paul Saneholtz, 83, a businessman who owned a motel in the Williams County community of Holiday City, drove a school bus, and worked at Sauder Village, died Thursday at Toledo Hospital, where he was recovering from a fall he took last month.

Mr. Saneholtz died as a result of an infection that developed while he was in the hospital, his daughter, Tracy Laycock, said.

Mr. Saneholtz and his family were living in Perrysburg in the early 1980s when his brother, Wilbur, told him about a motel that was for sale near Pioneer, Ohio. At the time, Mr. Saneholtz and his second wife, the former Nancy L. Wilmoth, whom he married June 26, 1971, were struggling during the economic downturn and were looking for self-employment opportunities, his daughter said.

He purchased the Rainbow Motel in 1983 and ran it until 2002, when at age 71 he sold it and retired.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Saneholtz became involved with a committee of business owners and residents who, fed up with Toledo Edison Co.’s electric rates, incorporated the area at Exit 13 of the Ohio Turnpike and State Rt. 13 into Holiday City.

Holiday City, led by the late John Kidston, manager of a competing motel, formed a municipal-electric utility to purchase power at lower rates than Toledo Edison was charging, his daughter said.

“They just wanted to reduce the costs of their electric bills,” Mrs. Laycock said. “He was on the committee that helped do that.”

For a time, the family lived in an apartment at the motel, but later bought a home near Pioneer, where they continued to live after selling the business.

Mr. Saneholtz was born on Nov. 9, 1929, to Hugo and Naomi Saneholtz in Henry County’s Liberty Township near Napoleon.

“We think he was born at home, but we haven’t been able to confirm it,” his daughter said.

He graduated from Liberty Center High School in 1947 and served in the Air Force motor pool from 1950 to 1952 in Germany, his daughter said.

“He could drive anything, that was his claim to fame,” his daughter said.

He and his first wife, the former Barbara Ann Garrett, lived in Maumee and Perrysburg in the 1960s before buying the motel. The couple met while he was stationed in South Carolina. She died in 1995.

Mr. Saneholtz never developed any hobbies, his daughter said, but always kept busy “looking for those little odd jobs where he could make money.”

One of his part-time jobs was driving the small train and driving the horse and buggy for visitors to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio. He kept that job for eight years while operating the motel, she said.

His daughter said he especially enjoyed guiding the horse and buggy because he could interact with the younger passengers. For 12 years he drove a bus for Montpelier Exempted Village Schools.

He was a member of the Pioneer American Legion and drove daily to the Pioneer Senior Center to meet with his friends, his daughter said.

Mr. Saneholtz is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Denise Fay, Pam Wolney, and Tracy Laycock; step-daughters Maria Shell and Becky Mugler; sisters Ardith Masters, Lois Bauman, and Mary Palmer; six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by brothers Wilbur, Tony, and Orville, and a sister, Lavon Tucker.

His funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at Thompson Funeral Home, Montpelier.

Memorials are suggested to the Williams County Humane Society or the Toledo-Area Humane Society.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: or 419-724-6050.