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Published: Saturday, 11/16/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Russell B. Slocum; 1942-2013: Ex-Northwood official lauded for civic service

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Russell B. Slocum, 71, who served Northwood as a police officer, council member, department head, and coach, died Monday in Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Mr. Slocum underwent surgery after falling from a motorized scooter, his daughter Jennifer said.

He resigned in 1987 as Northwood's street superintendent, a position he'd held since 1981, and his family moved to Florida.

“He was the best boss I ever had,” said Craig Meier, Northwood public service director — Mr. Slocum's old job with a revised title. Mr. Slocum hired Mr. Meier in 1984 as a utility worker.

Mr. Slocum got called out in the middle of the night for snow removal and thought nothing of getting on a plow himself.

“I remember him whistling all the time and being happy. He was learning all the time, and I think that was part of it,” his daughter said.

Northwood was incorporated as a village in 1962 out of the former Ross Township. In the early years, Mr. Slocum, a Navy veteran, was hired as a village police officer by Chief Wilburn Ferguson.

“He loved people. My dad would be on patrol, and he would stop [and play] in a pickup game of football and baseball with the kids. That was down by Lark Elementary School,” his daughter said. He was promoted to sergeant — “he used to joke he got his sergeant stripes because he married the chief's daughter,” his daughter said — but left the force after the unexpected death in January, 1968, of his father-in-law.

He went to work at the East Broadway plant of the Libbey-Owens Ford Co. and, on the side, did household painting and repair jobs.

“He became something of a jack of all trades,” his daughter said.

He and his wife helped organize a recreation program for children. Later he coached the Northwood High School girls softball team, his daughter among the members.

“He was rough,” she said. “I remember all of us being in the infield, and he hit the ball, and if we turned our head or jumped out of the way, he would hit it harder.”

He encouraged his girls to steal bases, and opponents, not used to that style of aggressive play, “would look to their coach and say, ‘They can't do that!’” his daughter recalled. She has been a coach in Florida for 14 years.

He also was coach for a single season of a girls' basketball team. He was an umpire as well, mostly for recreation-league ball games in Wood, Lucas, and Ottawa counties, and his grandchildren have become umpires.

Mr. Slocum was elected to Northwood council in the 1970s, but resigned in 1981 when Mayor John Hageman named him street commissioner of Northwood, by then designated as a city.

After moving to Florida, he and his wife operated wallpaper, paint, and window treatment businesses, most recently with daughter Beth.

He was born May 28, 1942, to Dorothy and Harold Slocum, and grew up in Rossford, where his mother was renowned as an athlete — basketball in high school; bowling and horseshoes later.

In Florida, he eagerly did fix-it jobs, often volunteering his services — “his ministry of paying it forward,” his daughter said.

He readily spoke to all who crossed his path, and was a man of great faith. “He had a passion for Jesus, and he would minister to anybody who would listen, and even if they would walk away,” his daughter said.

Surviving are his wife, Cheryl Slocum, whom he married April 2, 1966; daughters, Jennifer Ayres and Beth Slocum; sisters, Lillian Butson and Sharon Becker, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 3 p.m. Sunday in New Hope Community Church, North Port, Fla. Arrangements are by McKee Funeral Home, North Port, Fla.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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