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Published: Friday, 1/24/2014

John F. Oberwegner; 1936-2014: Veteran Oregon sergeant trained others on force

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

John F. Oberwegner, a member of the Oregon police force for 32 years who trained other officers in the safe and effective use of firearms, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 77.

He had cancer, his son Daniel said.

Mr. Oberwegner retired as an Oregon police sergeant in 1992. He was nicknamed Gunner as a small-arms instructor in the Marine Corps and, as a police officer, he taught at area police academies, his son said. His military police experience as a Marine — and his experience in the Corps overall — inspired him to became an Oregon police officer.

“It was the brotherhood that carried over from the Marine Corps,” said his son Daniel, an Army veteran. “If you look at the military and the police, there’s a brotherhood there.”

Mr. Oberwegner’s military background influenced his conduct with the public as well.

“He brought with him a strong moral sense,” said Donald Petroff, a former Oregon mayor and municipal court judge who was a longtime friend.

“He was the kind of people you liked to have on the police force, because they have the right moral background and treat people properly,” Mr. Petroff said. “If you’re working in law enforcement, you have to like people or you’re not going to do well, and he liked people.”

“When you talked to him, you had this instant feeling of honesty about him,” Mr. Petroff said. “There was nothing phony about John or put on. He was always upfront.”

He was born June 14, 1936, in Toledo to Ardella “Jessie” and Marion Oberwegner. His father was in the Army, and he grew up in several spots around the United States and in Germany. He went to high school in Louisville, son Daniel said, and afterward joined the Marines. He became a chief warrant officer, serving stateside and in the Mediterranean.

He formerly competed in the national rifle matches at Camp Perry near Port Clinton. He was a student of military history and visited battlefields throughout the United States and in Europe.

“He could pick up a weapon from 200 years ago and tell you what it was,” his son Daniel said.

Mr. Oberwegner of Millbury was a former commandant of the Marine Corps League’s Lou Diamond Detachment and a member of the American Legion post in Genoa.

He was formerly married to Karolee Alspach Reigh and Janet Shuman Beilstein.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia Oberwegner, whom he married Feb. 17, 1996; sons, David and Daniel Oberwegner; daughters, Donna Getzinger and Jennifer Rayoum; stepsons, Jeffrey Shuman and Sean O’Rourke; stepdaughters, Anastasia Radecki, Lisa Rust, and Regina Roddy; sister, Katherine Wilson; 15 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Saturday in the Freck Funeral Home, Oregon, where services are scheduled at 1 p.m. Monday.

The family suggests tributes to Make-A-Wish or Toys for Tots.

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



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