DARKE COUNTY - Communities hate to lose anyone through death, but it happens. However, it won’t make the citizens forget about those loved ones…those who have died that made an impact on their respective communities…anytime soon.
And, the same goes for 2012.
Darke County lost many people this past year from all walks of life…elected officials, businesspeople, attorneys and educators…young and old. Death has no boundaries. They are mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
The memories and legacies they left behind helped built this county. And, that won’t be forgotten for a long time.
Harry L. Birt Jr., of New Weston, who answered to “the Candy Man,” “Junior” or “Shorty,” died May 30 at age 84. He was the second of three generations who ran the general store in New Weston for 92 years and, up until the time of his death, was still traveling distances to pick up candy and other things they sold at the store. He was also entertaining and people admired that about him.
Another business owner, Harry Brown of Versailles, who established the Sweet Shop in Versailles in 1939, will be remembered for his hard work and dedication. He died the evening of Jan. 25, right before his 95th birthday.
Businesspeople include Jim Thwaits, 76, owner of the former Thwaits Floor Fashions in Greenville, died May 19, and Mark Pax who wish his wife, Pat, ran the This-and-That Gift Shop in Versailles for 22 years before his retirement, died in a two-vehicle accident north of Versailles on the morning of Jan. 10. He was 67.
Jimmy Baltes, businessman/musician and also known as “The Legend,” died Sept. 19 at the age of 86. He and his wife, the late Dorie Baltes, had owned Baltes Restaurant in Frenchtown for many years and he had his own band for 65 years.
Richard Graeff, a former educator, coach, school administrator, Arcanum mayor and Darke County commissioner, died May 31 at the age of 84, and Don Grooms, who died Feb. 5 at age 87, worked for the Ohio State Highway Patrol for 26 years, served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II and went on to become Greenville’s safety director and council member. Both of these men were also active in quite a few organizations.
Thomas C. Hanes, longtime attorney and prosecutor in Darke County, died April 12 in Tucson, Ariz. Born in Arcanum 81 years before that, he was a U.S. Army veteran and, while a partner of a local firm, he served as safety director for the City of Greenville. Darke County’s prosecuting attorney from 1969-75, Hanes was recognized by the National District Attorneys Association as the “Outstanding Small County Prosecutor of the Year” and, in 1974, he was named the “Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year” by the Ohio Prosecutors Association.
John Vermilya, 93, the former extension agent for Ohio State University in Darke and Montgomery counties, died Dec. 10. He was active in the Darke County community in other activities, too.
Bernie Dent, who was respected by a lot of Darke County residents, died May 14 at age 89. He was active in the school, church and community and made a positive impression on many local youth.
Two local women lost their lives in as many traffic accidents. Retired educator Jeanne Morris, 76, died of injuries sustained in a traffic accident the morning of March 28, and artist Susan North, 56, died 16 days after the accident in which she was involved in on June 12.
All of these people were featured in tributes by The Daily Advocate this past year, and all were praised highly by mourners.
There were many more who deserve mention and are not meant to be excluded from this listing. Just a small portion of those include John Leis, Dan Younce, Ed Sindelar, Edna Martin, John Ball, Norman Redman and Dr. Jack E. Corle.
These loved ones will be missed by not only their immediate families but by those whose lives they touched during their time here on earth.