William Marshall Mewborn (1941-2018)

William Marshall Mewborn
William Marshall Mewborn

Dr. William Marshall Mewborn of Sylvania Township, a prominent area veterinarian who was instrumental in preserving the former Stranahan Estate as Wildwood Preserve Metropark, died Thursday in Swanton Valley Center. He was 77.

He died of pancreatic cancer, Todd Mewborn, his son, said.

Dr. Mewborn retired about 2003 after at least 35 years of practice, most recently at the former Mewborn-Burroughs veterinarian offices on Holland-Sylvania Road in Sylvania Township and near Lagrange and Stickney avenues in Toledo. 

“A sparrow hawk beat its wings and screeched for its daily ration of raw chicken. A rambunctious raccoon performed acrobatics on the ceiling and sides of his cage. And the only audience was a baby seagull, watching in apparent boredom. The scene is not a zoo. It is the office of a Sylvania Township veterinarian, one of a few in the area who treats wildlife — a practice which not only requires a desire on the part of the doctor, but a special raise-and-release permit from the state,”  The Blade reported in a 1980 article.

Said Art Weber, a member of the Metropark district staff for more than 45 years, “He was a longtime valued adviser and friend to the Metroparks over the years. It started with Wildwood and carried over decades. And he will be very, very missed.

“Bill made [Wildwood] happen,” Mr. Weber went on. “He was the man who was the catalyst for all the things that it took to establish the idea of making Stranahan Estate a metropark. It took a tax levy and he was tireless and relentless in doing all the things that it took to pass that levy.”

Scott Carpenter, Metroparks Toledo spokesman, said Wildwood had 1.2 million visits last year. It is the most popular of the area’s 16 Metroparks, he said. 

“In my view, that [Dr. Mewborn-led] campaign is the greatest story in Metroparks’ 90 year history,” Mr. Carpenter said.

Mr. Carpenter noted that the Dr. Mewborn-led citizens campaign that “resulted in the passage of a levy to buy the property” is depicted in an hour-long documentary, Land as Good as Gold, which was produced by WGTE-TV and Metroparks in 2014 — Wildwood’s 40th anniversary.

“He definitely had a lot of empathy toward wildlife and he wanted to share that empathy with other people to help preserve the natural habitat and make our environment a little better for the next generation,” Mr. Mewborn said.

“He loved the wildlife. A lot of pets we had were deer and raccoons, things that were injured. He would then release them,” he said. 

Dr. Mewborn was born Aug. 22, 1941, in Toledo.

In 1959, he graduated from DeVilbiss High School and in 1966 from Ohio State University with a degree of doctor of veterinary medicine.

In the late 1960s, he married Barbara Francisco. They later divorced. She survives. He did not remarry.

Surviving are his sons, Todd and Chris Mewborn; sister, Melinda Rupp; brother, Jed Mewborn, and three grandchildren.

The family is planning a celebration of life during an open house from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Wildwood Metropark’s Ward Pavilion, 4830 Central Ave.

Arrangements are by the Cremation Society of Toledo.

The family suggests tributes to Wildwood Metropark.

Contact Mike Sigov at sigov@theblade.com419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.