Francis 'Frank' Sidle, 1924-2010: WWII vet used listening skills as juvenile referee


Francis "Frank" Sidle, a longtime referee for Lucas County Juvenile Court, died Sunday at Ebeid Hospice at Flower Hospital in Sylvania. He was 86.

Mr. Sidle, who lived in Toledo most his life, suffered from cancer and had breathing problems, said Barbara Sidle, his wife of 21 years.

A Scott High School graduate, he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and fought as an infantry scout on the front lines in Italy, France, and Germany, Mrs. Sidle said.

"He didn't like to talk about the war" and declined to take an Honor Flight to Washington to visit the World War II memorial because it would have been too emotional for him, Mrs. Sidle said.

After the war, he went to California with his first wife, Rhoada, to become a veterinarian student on the GI Bill. But he was told he would have to attend school in his home state.

Mr. Sidle chose criminal justice at Ohio State University "because he said he couldn't hack the chemistry courses," Mrs. Sidle said.

He took postgraduate courses at the University of Michigan before going to work for Toledo Municipal Court and later Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

He began as a probation officer in 1955 and was appointed a Family Court Center referee by Judges Robert Foster and Francis Pietrykowski in 1967, hearing juvenile delinquency matters.

"They wanted him to be a traffic referee, but he said he wasn't interested," Mrs. Sidle said.

Paul Sullivan, a friend who worked as an administrator for the juvenile detention center, said Mr. Sidle had the perfect temperament for the job.

"He as an excellent referee. He was a good listener … and he handled people well," Mr. Sullivan said. "He treated them fairly. Frank was just a nice guy."

Mr. Sidle and Mr. Sullivan retired in 1986 and both men and their wives took joint vacations to Canada and New England.

Toward the end of his career, the courts said only lawyers could serve as referees and magistrates.

Mr. Sidle was given the choice of going to law school to keep his job, but he declined, citing his age.

He switched jobs, handling truant children, but found the adjustment difficult, his wife said.

Mr. Sidle and his second wife, Barbara, met while both worked at the court, but did not start dating right away, she said. They eventually dated for 13 years. "I told him, 'You are either going to marry me or I'm going to find someone else,'" she recalled.

In keeping with their background in the courts, the couple married Oct. 12, 1989, in the Lucas County Courthouse.

Mr. Sidle like to fish, but was not one to join clubs and organizations, Mrs. Sidle said. "He loved gardening. He put me to shame with plants," she said.

Mr. Sidle had two sons from his previous marriage, and both preceded him in death. His first marriage ended in divorce, and Rhoada also preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; stepdaughter, Nikkie Pearson; stepsons, Todd, Anthony, and Troy Bieniek; nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

There will be no visitation, and funeral services will be private. Newcomer Funeral Home and Cremation Services handled the arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to Ebeid Hospice.

Contact: Jim Sielicki at:

or 419-724-6078.