The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jul. 22, 2018

Obituaries can be emailed to or faxed to 419.238.2578. As of July 1, 2017, full obituaries will cost $40 (including a photo), while unpaid death notices do not include memberships, work data, and other personal information. The names of grandchildren, etc., are also not included in a death notice. Obituary payments can be sent to: Van Wert independent, P.O. Box 487, Van Wert, OH 45891. Local funeral homes are billed for full obituaries, while out-of-town funeral homes can also be billed, if so requested.

POSTED: 12/28/10 at 3:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Info

Jack L. Stahr, 88, passed away Friday morning, July 20, 2018, at his residence in Van Wert.

He was born January 30, 1930, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the son Leo and Mary K. Stahr, who both preceded him in death. On October 8, 1955, he married the former Elsie Mae Miller, who died December 12, 2015.

Survivors include a brother, Jerry Stahr of Lake Placid, Florida; two sisters, Dollie Brown of Bishop, California, and Rose Knotick of Baltimore, Maryland; and several nephews and nieces.

A son, Steven Jack Stahr, and three sisters, Betty Wachs, Terri Costanzo, and Kathy Crawford, also preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday, July 23, at Cowan & Son Funeral Home in Van Wert. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Cemetery, where military honors will be rendered by Harvey Lewis American Legion Post 346 in Ohio City.

There will be calling an hour prior to the service on Monday at the funeral home.

Preferred memorials: American Lung Association.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/20/18 at 3:38 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Jace Dimitri Sanders, infant son of Emily Bollenbacher and Joseph Sanders of Rockford, passed away on Sunday, July 15, 2018, at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, just hours after his birth.

In addition to his parents, Jace is survived by his sisters and brother: Josslyn Bollenbacher, Alana Sanders, Shane Brister, and Tessa Hunnaman; his grandparents, Cynthia (Doug) Jones of Venedocia, Todd Bollenbacher of Rockford, and Ray and Mariann Sanders of New Bremen.

Funeral services will be observed privately by the family.

Preferred memorials: Donor’s choice.

Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory in Van Wert is assisting the family.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/20/18 at 3:37 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Joshua Michael “Burky” Burkheimer, 39, of Van Wert, was called home to be with Jesus on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at his residence.

Joshua Michael Burkheimer

Josh was born April 27, 1979, in Van Wert, to Patricia (McCune) Burkheimer, who survives in Van Wert, and Cloyd M. “Stoney” Burkheimer Jr., who preceded him in death.

A 1998 graduate of Van Wert High School, Josh worked as a detailer for River City Harley Davidson and Raabe Ford. He went on to drive a truck for DNT Trucking for several years.

A lover of muscle cars and car shows, Josh had the pleasure of owning serval classic cars; however, his dream car, a 1969 Camaro Z-28, eluded him. He was also an avid collector of die-cast cars and Hot Wheels. Josh followed in his father’s and brothers’ footsteps and drove in several demolition derbies.

Josh was also a faithful Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan and a trivia nut.

Those left to cherish his memory  include two brothers, Christopher Burkheimer of Van Wert and Andy Bixler of Kentucky; a sister-in-law, Ava Burkheimer of Van Wert; two uncles, Mark (Joyce) McCune of Spencerville and Emerson (Vickie) Burkheimer of Mercer; an aunt, Amy (Dennis) Albers of Wapakoneta; several cousins, and his cat, Zoe.

Two brothers, Brent and Jim Burkheimer; his grandparents, Miriam and Don Steinebrugge; one aunt, Linda Swany; and an uncle, Robert L. McCune, also preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday, July 20, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory in Van Wert, with Cheryl Schaffner officiating. A graveside burial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Kossuth Cemetery in Spencerville.

Visitation is from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19, at the funeral home.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/17/18 at 7:44 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Pamela Longstreth, 66, of Van Wert, passed away at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018, at her residence after a courageous battle with cancer.

Pamela Longstreth

She was born November 13, 1951, in Van Wert, the daughter of Alfred Jackson and Alice (Stegaman) Bell, who both preceded her in death.

Pam tended bar for many years at several local establishments, including The Corral, Old South, and Max-A-Rama. During her working years, she was involved with various charities. Pam loved to spend time with her family and grandchildren. She also cherished her dogs and horses.

She is survived by her children, Eric (Tricia) Showalter of Florida, Matt (Amy) Longstreth of Van Wert, and Sumer Figley of Van Wert; a stepdaughter, Michelle (Travis) Finkhousen of Van Wert; 14 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; her stepfather, James “Jim” Bell of Van Wert; three brothers, Greg Jackson of Van Wert, Alfred “Jack” (Debora) Jackson of North Carolina, and Carol (Barry) Crowle of North Carolina; as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A son, Chris Longstreth, and her sister, Barbara Taylor, also preceded her in death

Funeral services will be private.

Preferred memorials: Parkview Cancer Institute.

Condolences may be expressed at

Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory in Van Wert is assisting the family with arrangements.

POSTED: 07/16/18 at 4:07 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Gladys M.  Utterback, 94, of Payne, died Sunday, July 15, 2018, at the Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center.

Gladys M. Utterback

She was born August 19, 1923, in Payne, the daughter of Charles and Norma (Burkley) Copsey, who both preceded her in death. In 1939, she married Earl Mobley who died in 1962. In February 1964, she married George Utterback, who preceded died February 13, 1974.

She was a member of Payne Church of the Nazarene, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 297 Paulding Eagles Aerie 2405 Auxiliary, and Paulding Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Unit 587.

She enjoyed the outdoors, gardening, dancing and spending time with her family.

She is survived by her children, Janet (Larry) McMillan and Jerry (Jean) Mobley, both of Paulding, John Mobley of Wauseon, Jeff (Teal) Mobley of Payne, and George (Kim) Utterback of Paulding; along many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

A son, James Mobley; two grandsons, James Mobley Jr. and Jesse Mobley; and three brothers, Charles, Paul, and Earl “Pete” Copsey, also preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be conducted 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 18, at Payne Church of the Nazarene, with Pastor Mike Harper officiating. Burial will follow in Wiltsie Cemetery in Payne.

Visitation will be from 4-8 PM Tuesday, July 17, at Den Herder Funeral Home in Paulding, as well as from 10 a.m. until the time of services Wednesday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Payne Church of the Nazarene or Paulding County Senior Center.

Online condolences may be sent to

POSTED: 07/16/18 at 4:01 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Mildred E. Hablitzel, 96, of Van Wert, died at 12:21 a.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Van Wert Health.

She was born November 27, 1921, in Van Wert, the daughter of Fred F. and L. Effie (Thurman) Stephenson, who both preceded her in death. On March 25, 1949, she married Robert William Hablitzel, who died August 31, 2006. She was also preceded in death by two brothers, Myron and Ernest Stephenson.

Survivors include a daughter, Karen Sue (David) Fosnaugh of Uniondale, Indiana; one granddaughter; and a great-granddaughter.

Funeral services will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 18, at Cowan & Son Funeral Home in Van Wert. Burial will follow in Woodland Cemetery in Van Wert.

Visitation is from 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, at the funeral home.

Preferred memorials: The local American Red Cross chapter.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/14/18 at 7:07 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Michael H. Coats, 60, of Ohio City, and formerly of Rockford, died Wednesday night, July 11, 2018, at Lima Memorial Hospital, where he was a patient.

He was born April 24, 1958, in Celina, the son of Howard and Joan (Waldron) Coats, who both who survive in Sebring, Florida. On April 27, 1985, he married the former Sheryl Kline, who survives in Ohio City.

Other survivors include two children, Shelby Coats and Zachary Coats, both of Ohio City; a brother, Doug Coats; and two sisters, Tammy (Terry) Ault and Cathy Schreima.

Private services for the family will be held at a later date. 

Preferred memorials: To the family.

Condolences may be expressed at

Ketcham-Ripley Funeral Home in Rockford has been entrusted with funeral arrangements.

POSTED: 07/12/18 at 10:26 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Robert L. “Bob” Exline Sr., 79, of Van Wert, died at 3:18 p.m. Thursday, May 3, 2018, at the Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center.

Robert L. Exline

He was born May 9, 1938, in Van Wert, the son of Charles W. and Mildred L. (Richards) Exline, who both preceded him in death. On April 21, 1963, he married the former Cheryl D. “Cheri” Runnion, who survives in Van Wert.

For more than 30 years he worked at Clark’s Shoe Store in Van Wert until its closing. He then worked at Sonoco Fiber Drum (now Greif Brothers) in Van Wert until his retirement in 2004. After retirement, he worked part-time for Quality Sorting.

He was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Van Wert and served on many boards. For several years he served as scoutmaster of Troop 35 in Van Wert and had been a Little League coach. During his retail years, he had been chairman of the Retail Merchants Association. Bob has been a member of Lodge 1197, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, in Van Wert for over 58 years and served as an exalted ruler and on the Board of Trustees.

He attended International Business College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, after graduation from high school and is a veteran of the Ohio National Guard, serving for four years.

In addition to his wife, Bob is survived by a daughter, Shelley A. (Don) Bokmiller of Charlotte, North Carolina; a son, Robert L. “Rob” (Sandra) Exline Jr. of Houston, Texas; a grandson, Robert Zachary Exline of Houston; a granddaughter, Kalyn Rae Exline of Houston; one brother- and sister-in-Law, Dave and Kim Clouse of Van Wert; a nephew, Dr. Troy (Kimberly) Clouse of Fort Wayne, Indiana; one niece, Tonia D. (Mark) Verville of Van Wert; six great-nieces and nephews, Emma E. Verville, Rachel M. Verville, Sarah G. Verville, and Mark Benjamin Verville, all of Van Wert, and Peyton A. Clouse and Landyn Clouse, both of Fort Wayne; and a nephew, Joel Salaway of Springfield.

A brother, James W. Exline; one sister-in-law, Shirley Exline; and his stepmother, Datha M. (Judkins-Gamble) Exline, also preceded him in death.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 18, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, with the Rev. Hal Shafer officiating. Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Woodlawn Cemetery in Ohio City.

Visitation will be from 4-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at the funeral home. An Elks memorial service will be held at 7:30 Tuesday evening at the funeral home.

Preferred memorials: First Presbyterian Church or Van Wert Area Inpatient Hospice Center.

POSTED: 07/12/18 at 9:25 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Jimmi Joe Poling, 67, of Scott, passed onto his next life on Thursday, July 5, 2018, at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Jimmi Joe Poling

He was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on June 5, 1951, the son of Burnell and Katie (Hockenberry) Poling, who both preceded him in death.

He retired 1993 from GM Powertrain of Defiance after 25 years of service.

He was a 1969 graduate of Blue Creek High School in Haviland. Jim maintained his love of motorcycles, antique cars, canoeing, and traveling originally fostered by his parents and grandparents. A loving tinkerer, he always saw possibility, bravery, and sensibility in everything he touched. A master navigator, he could always find a scenic route and held a keen eye for the local dive. His love of a good road trip was only surpassed by that of his devotion to his family and his commitment to compassion. With a helping hand and the most comfortable of silence, he effortlessly embodied stoicism and kindness. Family was paramount in his life. His beloved children and grandchildren brought immense joy to his life. He wasn’t one to miss a good ball game. He was a member of the Eagles Aerie 2405 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 587, both of Paulding.

His best friend and brother, Jackie Ray Poling, also preceded him in death.

Survivors inlcude his life partner, Kimberly Mayer; his children, Krista (Charles) Gonzales of Paulding, Jack (Carrie) Poling of Defiance, and Vanessa Poling of Louisville, Kentucky; eight grandchildren, Alyssa, Javier, and Quintin, Jeremy, Tarron, Emily, Eiros, and William; two great-grandchildren, Gabriel and AJ; a brother, Kim (Deb) Poling of Englewood, Florida; and one sister, Sonya Riggenbach of Van Wert.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday, July13, at DenHerder Funeral Home in Paulding.

A celebration of Jimmie’s life will be held from 2-8 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and an hour prior to funeral services Friday at the funeral home.

Preferred memorials: Scott EMS squad.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/10/18 at 7:37 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Ray Robert Jeffery, 95, of Antwerp, passed away Friday, July 6, 2018.

Ray Robert Jeffery-current photo

He was born March 30, 1923, in Paulding, the son of Myrtle and Owen Jeffery, who both preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his nine siblings, including brothers Leo, Owen “Jim”, Frank, Dorris, Gale, Delbert, and Merle, as well as sisters Lenna Balyard and Zella Jeffery.

On Februrary 2, 1941, he married Dorothy Smith, and they were wed for more than 70 years before she passed away January 15, 2013. They had four children, Carl (Susan) Jeffery of Van Wert, Jill (Steve Levy) Jeffery of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jan (Jeff) Boterf of Antwerp, and Jack (Sally) Jeffery of Lima. Other survivors include seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He also had a beloved feline companion, “Cat.”

Ray grew up on a farm in Paulding and graduated from Paulding High School in 1941. While in high school, he was elected president of the school’s chapter of Future Farmers of America.

A man outstanding in his field, Ray was a farmer in both Antwerp and Paulding and was also was a factory worker. Most of all, he was devoted to his family and was a champion of the underdog, with a special heart for animals. Ray possessed a quick wit as well as an active and curious mind.

Ray was a member of the Antwerp United Church and was former Sunday school superintendent. As president of the church’s men’s club, he arranged for Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Bob Feller to speak before a packed house at the church in December 1960. That event was a highlight of his life.

A member of the Masonic Lodge, Ray advanced to being a 32nd degree Mason.

Ray Robert Jeffery-young man

He was also a two-term member of the Paulding County Board of Education and a member of the original Vantage Career Center Board of Education.

The family would like to acknowledge Liz Hormann, who was invaluable to their father. During his final years, Liz used her nursing skills to offer extraordinary health care and her personal attributes to form a friendship that Ray treasured. Additionally, Mike Schneider, pastor of Antwerp United Methodist Church, was a source of great comfort and always took time to speak with Ray and counsel his family. Also, the residents and staff of the Manor House provided exceptional care, support and friendship. Further, those at Antwerp EMS Services, the Manor House and Parkview Regional Medical Center were both professional and compassionate in their treatment of Ray.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Antwerp United Methodist Church.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m., concluding with Masonic rites Friday, July 13, at Den Herder Funeral Home in Paulding, and from 10-11 a.m. Saturday at the church.

Preferred memorials: Antwerp United Methodist Church or the Antwerp EMS squad.

Condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 07/09/18 at 12:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries