William Ernest “Bill” Smith, 99, of Deshler, Ohio, passed away Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at his residence.
He was born Sept. 25, 1922, in Deshler, Ohio, to the late Denzil and Hazel (Foglesong) Smith. On Oct. 24, 1941, he married Virginia Hartman and they were later divorced.
Bill was a lifetime resident of Deshler. He graduated from Deshler High School in May 1940 and then began his postal career at Deshler Post Office. He was a substitute clerk-carrier, served as acting postmaster, assistant to the postmaster and then culminated his career as postmaster for the last 13 years of his service. He was appointed postmaster by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served a total of 38 years in the post office. During his tenure, he also served as the secretary of the local Sixth Board of the U.S. Civil Service Examiners; conducting civil service exams from 1943-56.
Bill had to step away from the post office to serve his country in the U.S. Army during World War II from October 1943-February 1946. He was in the European Theater in the 20th Armored Division that liberated the German Dachau prison camp. The German general that surrendered the German army was brought through his guard post in Salzburg, Austria.
The eldest of two boys, he farmed alongside his brother, Ronald, for 48 years. He took correspondence classes from LaSalle University, Chicago, in accounting. He worked in real estate with Justin Gribbell’s Real Estate Agency and also did tax preparation for 57 years. He loved his lifetime membership at Immanuel Lutheran Church, serving on council for 15 years, serving as chairman for nine years. He was the first lay person to serve as chairman with the approval of the pastor.
His community service was astounding and according to Bill the highlights were being a member of the Deshler American Legion Post #316 for 75 years; a member of the Deshler Lions Club for 64 years, serving as president four times and as secretary-treasurer for 32 years. He received the Melvin Jones Award and 54 years of perfect attendance. Bill served as president of the Deshler Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in obtaining new sidewalks in the business district and new State Route 18 through Deshler in 1976. He was the secretary-treasurer for the Deshler Builders, Inc., obtaining new industries to come to Deshler.
He organized the Deshler Doctor Committee and was the permanent chairman for 46 years and had 92 persons soliciting for funds. He filed the annual reports to the IRS, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Deshler Chamber of Commerce and the Deshler Community; via the Deshler Flag. He was a chairman of the Red Cross fund drive in the Deshler area for three years. In July of 2012, Bill was presented with Deshler’s Sycamore Lodge #520 Community Builders Award.
In his spare time, Bill loved collecting Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Ford Mustangs. He had many automobiles and small replicas. Over the years he had large collections of farm machinery, music, movies, coins and stamps.
To say he will be missed is an understatement. Bill served his community his entire lifetime and his influence and contributions will forever be a part of the Village of Deshler.
He is survived by his son, William “Sonny” (Wanda) Smith; two granddaughters, Katrina (Tod) Sharigian; Patrice Fairweather; two great-grandchildren, Liam and Anna Marie; many nieces and nephews; countless friends, neighbors and a community who appreciated all that he was.
He was preceded in death by a grandson, Keith Smith; his brother, Ronald (Mary) Smith; his ex-wife, Virginia; and his special and constant companion of 45 years, Lois Spitsnaugle.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Deshler, with Pastor Chris Walter officiating. Graveside services with military honors will follow in Woodlawn Cemetery, Deshler. Visitation will be from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. on Saturday at the Feehan-Rodenberger Funeral Home, Deshler, and from 1-2 p.m. Sunday at the church prior to the services.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Messages and memories can be left at www.feehanrodenbergerfuneralhome.com.