Dorothy Reetz, 96, whose Navy training in World War II led to a civilian career in meteorology, died Sunday at the Laurels of Defiance, a nursing and rehabilitation center.
She was in declining health, said her son Kevin, with whom she lived in Defiance the last five years.
“She was the kind of lady who told you what she thought. She was independent,” he said.
Mrs. Reetz was the senior staff member when she retired at the end of 1983 from the National Weather Service at Toledo Express Airport. Afterward she spent most of each year in Clermont, Fla., an inland location. She aimed for good weather as she planned her drives there and back north, she told The Blade in 1997. During hurricane season, she visited her son Kevin.
Wherever she was, when Mrs. Reetz stepped outdoors, she looked up.
“You always can identify a weatherman,” she said in 1997. “I like to study the clouds, to see what is moving in.”
She had lots of opportunity over a career that began in 1957 with what was the U.S. Weather Bureau. She kept track of gauges and analyzed maps.
By the mid-1960s, a computer — albeit room-sized — aided in sorting data. She recorded weather conditions hourly and released balloons for high-altitude readings.
She was scientifically minded, her daughter Barbara Garvin said. And she was analytical, son Steven added. Few women then were in weather-related jobs.
“She just wanted to support her family. To her, family came first,” Steven said.
Mrs. Reetz worked every shift around the clock for years, commuting from the family home in Henry County. She viewed a nighttime snow storm in April, 1983, as a message to retire.
“It was only an 18-mile drive, and I wasn’t due until midnight,” she told The Blade in 1997. “I left my home in Liberty Center at 10:30 p.m. and didn’t get there until after 1 a.m. En route I passed two snow plows that were in the ditch and a semi-truck that was crosswise at an underpass.”
She was born May 27, 1922, in Lima, Ohio, to Winifred and Thomas Kincaid. The family moved to Toledo, and she was a graduate of Woodward High School. She was studying business administration at the University of Toledo when she enlisted as a WAVE, the acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, formed by the Navy in World War II. The Navy trained her in meteorology, and she was assigned the naval station in Miami. She was on duty when a hurricane passed overhead.
After the war, she received a bachelor’s degree from UT. She and Robert Reetz married Feb. 7, 1948. He died in November, 1982.
She’d been an Eastern Star deputy grand matron and a former district president. She was a member of Liberty Center-Colton United Methodist Church.
Surviving are her sons, Michael, Steven, and Kevin; daughter, Barbara Garvin; nine grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at noon Saturday at Walker-Hoening Mortuary, Napoleon, with visitation after 10 a.m. The family suggests tributes to Salvation Army.
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