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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2003

Tragedy touches school in Glandorf

GLANDORF, Ohio - A local volunteer playing Santa Claus for a group of kindergarten pupils in Glandorf Elementary School became ill in the classroom yesterday and died at a medical clinic, officials said.

Ron Dickman, 53, of Glandorf, died of an apparent heart attack he suffered about 9:30 a.m., Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler said.

David Lewis, superintendent for Ottawa-Glandorf Local School District, said Mr. Dickman was stricken in the classroom and the group of about 18 pupils was taken to another classroom after emergency medical technicians were summoned.

“They saw him start to get ill. They could tell he was ill,” Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Dickman died at St. Rita s Putnam County Ambulatory Care Center in Glandorf, officials there said.

Sheriff Beutler said authorities believe Mr. Dickman suffered a heart attack. Medical officials at Ambulatory Care said the cause of death has not been established.

The sheriff said another Santa took Mr. Dickman s place at the school.

“There was a replacement Santa sent back over soon after that, to try to reduce the stress of the trauma on the kids,” he said.

Mr. Lewis said school officials met with the youngsters and explained that Santa was sick, and sent a note home with the pupils to explain the situation and to allow the parents to explain what had happened.

Mr. Dickman was part of a group of community volunteers who are active in Glandorf school functions.

The body was taken to Love Funeral Home in Ottawa, where funeral arrangements were incomplete. The family declined to comment.

Glandorf is about 65 miles southwest of Toledo.

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