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Harlan E. Reichle; 1928-2014: Builder had vision for Waterville


Harlan Reichle


Harlan E. Reichle, a high energy and successful home builder and developer who was a former mayor of Waterville, died April 17 in Parkcliffe Alzheimer’s Community. He was 86.

He had dementia and lived at Parkcliffe the last three years, his son Harlan said.

Mr. Reichle and his wife, Barbara, raised their family in Waterville, then lived in Whitehouse. They moved in retirement to Beulah, Mich., where they’d long had a second home. Though retired, he continued building and developing there.

Mr. Reichle early in his career built a subdivision in Walbridge and, through his H.E. Reichle Inc., was responsible for the construction of hundreds of homes, mainly in the Waterville and Whitehouse areas.

“They were modest homes. He didn’t build mansions,” his son said. “He built good quality homes for modest middle-class Americans.

“He had a vision for how to do this, looking at a cornfield, some piece of ground with all the physical attributes and limitations, and envisioning a subdivision there all the way through to the houses.”

Mr. Reichle built on land he owned, a rarity these days for a builder, said his son, who is known for commercial real estate and development.

“He had this vision, and he was intent on controlling the whole thing,” his son said. “He just loved the construction, and the whole problem-solving part of it really appealed to him. He liked the action.”

Louis Steinbauer, a lumber supplier, developer, and friend, said: “He had a lot of energy. He was a go-goer.”

Mr. Reichle was a member of Waterville village council and vice mayor in 1969 when Paul Sellers, the incumbent mayor, stepped down. Mr. Reichle served the remainder of Mr. Sellers’ term and was elected in his own right. He lost a re-election bid in 1975.

Mr. Reichle was conscious of history and donated the mayoral seal to the Waterville Historical Society as well as aerial photos of his Crestwood subdivision, said Phyllis Witzler, historical society archivist.

“He had a sense of being a good citizen and wanting to do good things,” she said.

One issue of the day was whether a bypass ought be built to divert U.S. 24 from the heart of town, recalled Joan Rigal, who was on council and supported the bypass. Mr. Reichle supported widening the road instead. A bypass eventually opened — about 40 years later.

“While we didn’t always agree, he was fair,” Mrs. Rigal said. “He had the interests of Waterville at heart.”

In 1979, Mr. Reichle was named to an unexpired term on council, but he resigned less than a year later. He also had been chairman of the Waterville Community Improvement and Development Committee.

He was born Feb. 17, 1928, to Mildred and Edward Reichle.

He was a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Springfield, Ohio. Mr. Reichle enlisted in the Army, served in Japan after World War II, and became an Army ranger and was promoted to captain.

Afterward, he worked in home building with the HB Lane Co. of Springfield before he moved to the Toledo area.

He was a former partner in the predecessor to Brandywine Country Club. Snowmobiling, fishing, hunting — moose in Newfoundland; antelope out West — were longtime pursuits.

“He loved his guy time,” his son said. “He was an intense guy. He loved to laugh and have a good time and have a drink with the guys. He was very gregarious and outgoing. He was very focused, hard charging.

“He was restless and had an active mind. He always wanted to fix something or solve some problem.”

Mr. Reichle was a longtime member of St. Joseph Church in Maumee.

He and his wife married April 11, 1959. She died April 29, 2006.

Surviving are his daughters, Roxanne Barton and Hollie Carls; sons, Harlan and Richard; brother, David Reichle; half brother, Ferd Seipel; stepbrother, Jack Seipel, and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Monday in the Walker Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Little Flower Church. The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer’s Association or Rotary International,

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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