Saturday, May 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Thomas P. Frisch [1929-2014]; Outdoorsman aided snapping turtles




Thomas P. Frisch, a taxidermist, musician, trapper, and outdoorsman who raised turtles in swimming pools in the backyard of his North Toledo home to return them to the wild, died Sunday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 84.

He died from complications of pulmonary fibrosis and atrial fibrillation, said Carol Ann Howell, the oldest of Mr. Frisch’s five daughters.

Mr. Frisch was a veteran angler who often fished in Lake Erie and nearby rivers, lakes, and ponds and for more than 50 years trapped and hunted snapping turtles in Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario for the meat.

“He fished every creek and ditch from downtown Toledo to beyond the Michigan line,” said now-retired Blade outdoors editor Steve Pollick, who met up with him in the 1980s and wrote about his fishing expertise and endeavors. “He also was the big-time trapper. He really knew his stuff.”

As the years went by, Mr. Frisch transitioned from trapping snapping turtles to conserving the reptiles. He raised them from eggs he got from females he captured in marshes and ponds.

Mr. Pollick said his friend kept the turtles in cast-off children’s plastic swimming pools and tubs and nurtured them until they were old enough to be released where he caught the females.

“I don’t know if it was out of a guilty conscience for trapping them so many years or out of a truly deep love of propagating turtles,” he said.

For many years, Mr. Frisch wore a green felt hat that his wife had purchased from L.L. Bean. Of short stature and weighing about 120 pounds, the worn faded hat made him look like a leprechaun, Mr. Pollick said.

“He was truly a free spirit,” he said.

Born Oct. 5, 1929, Mr. Frisch was a brick mason by trade. He learned taxidermy by reading books on the subject, Ms. Howell said.

A self-taught musician, he played drums in the marching band and jazz band at Woodmore High and continued in music by playing at taverns and burlesque clubs, his daughter said.

His wife of 62 years, Charlene, died Aug. 22, 2012.

Surviving are his daughters, Carol Ann Howell, Darlene Rasczyk, Karen Dombrowski, Sharon Frisch, and Jennifer Frisch; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandsons.

The family will receive guests from noon to 5 p.m. in the Newcomer Funeral Home, 4150 W. Laskey Rd., followed by sharing of memories. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Mark Reiter at: or 419-724-6199.

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