The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Sep. 29, 2023

Obituaries can be emailed to The Van Wert independent no longer accepts no-cost death notices. As of October 1, 2023, the cost of full obituaries will be $95 (including a photo). Local funeral homes are billed for full obituaries, while out-of-town funeral homes can also be billed, if so requested. Obituaries submitted by individuals must be paid in full prior to publication. The Van Wert independent accepts credit cards by telephone from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at 419.238.1220. 

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

Rogeta L. “Geta” Fruchey, age 64, of Ada, passed away at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at Vancrest of Ada.

Rogeta Fruchey

Geta was born on May 10, 1959, in Van Wert, to Roger and Wilva (Stuckey) Bair, who both preceded her in death. Geta married Joe Fruchey on July 23, 2015, and he preceded her in death on January 4, 2022.

She is survived by her four daughters, Jamie (Mark) Fleming, Jen (Aaron) Davis, Cassi Leiber and Angie (Steve) Palte all of Ada; eight grandchildren and six great -grandchildren; a brother, Lloyd Bair, and two sisters, Gena (Denny) Pancake and Gana George.

She was preceded in death by her two sisters, Rogula Bair and Goni Robeson.

Geta was a member of the Emmanuel United Church of Christ, Bluffton.

It was her wish to be cremated. There will be no services.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Arrangements have been entrusted to at Hanson-Neely-Allison Funeral & Cremation Services, Ada.

POSTED: 09/28/23 at 10:15 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Jack J. Brown, 74, of Ohio City, passed away Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at his residence in Ohio City.

He was born on November 11, 1948, in Madison, Wisconsin the son of Joseph Ervin Brown and Juanita Mae (Roberts) Brown, who both preceded him in death. He married Carol D. (Duncan) Brown on July 15, 1967. and she preceded him in passing on September 29, 2022.

Jack Brown

Other family survivors include his son, Aaron D. (Dawn) Brown of Ohio City; four grandchildren, Malorie Brown (Eric Spurr), Garrett (Jayla) Brown, Brooke (Corbin) Phillips, and Ben Brown (Chamberlynn Couts); six great- grandchildren, Jace Brown, Kyson Brown, LeeAnna Brown, Emerson Brown, Hudson Phillips and Nolan Phillips; a sister, Judy Rutledge of Findlay: a niece, Vicky (Steve) Bihn; a nephew, Paul (Cheryl) Rutledge; a nephew, Kevin (Bobbi) Dawson and special loved ones, Hope and Keaton Rager.

Jack was a 1967 graduate of Ohio City-Liberty High School and he attended First United Brethren in Christ Church in Van Wert. He was the mayor of Ohio City for the last four years and served on the Ohio City Village council prior to serving as mayor. Jack was active in attending the regional planning commission meetings in Van Wert representing the village and he retired from Federal Mogul-National Seal in Van Wert in 2012.

A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. Saturday, September 30, at Cowan & Son Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Van Wert, with Pastor Gerald Baker officiating. Calling hours will be held from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials: Ohio City Fire & EMS, First United Brethren in Christ Church or the Village of Ohio City for the Christmas decorating fund.

The family would like to offer their gratitude to the Community Health Professionals and special loved one Brook Ainsworth.

Online condolences may be expressed on the Tribute Wall at

POSTED: 09/27/23 at 11:58 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Barry Lee Hook, 91, of Van Wert, passed away Saturday, September 23, 2023 at Celina Manor Nursing Home.

He was born February 13, 1932, in Rockford, to Walter B. Hook and Pauline Proffitt “Hook” Clark, who both preceded him in death. He married Shirley J. German June 17, 1957, and she passed away March 20, 2021.

Barry Hook

He is survived by his children, Randy L. (Cheri) Hook of Van Wert, a daughter, Tammy (Brian) Evans of Rockford and a son Todd A. Hook of Van Wert; grandchildren, Sean Hook, Shane Hook, Matthew (Amber) Hook and Jamie (Jason) Miller; several great-grandchildren, and two sisters, Shirley Gossard of Cincinnati and Linda (Danny) Amweg of Ohio City.

Barry graduated in 1950 from Spencerville High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force. He was employed for a while as an over the road truck driver and owned his own service station. He was a long time employee of Kennedy Manufacturing Co. from which he retired. He was also a member of Good Shepherd of the Nazarene Church and helped maintain the building and grounds.

For those who wish to pay their respects to the family, they may do so from 2-5 p.m. Thursday, September 28, at Brickner Funeral Home, Van Wert, followed by a funeral service in the funeral home. At 6 p.m. the family will host a meal for all of Barry’s friends who wish to attend at Good Shepherd of the Nazarene Church.

Preferred memorials: Good Shepherd Church of the Nazarene.

Online condolences may be left at or emailed to

POSTED: 09/26/23 at 8:57 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Betty Jean McKinnon, age 93, of Tiffin, passed away Monday, September 18, 2023, at Bridge Hospice in Findlay.

Betty was born in Seneca County on December 26, 1929, to John and Mildred (Attlen) Rex, who both preceded her in death. She graduated from Carey High School in 1948, and shortly after graduating, Betty was introduced to Harold R. ‘Mickey’ McKinnon, and the two were wed on January 29, 1949, at Our Lady of Consolation in Carey. Mickey passed away on February 24, 2001.

Over the years, Betty worked in various roles within the community. Betty was a devoted member of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey. Here, she helped prepare meals at the Shrine Cafeteria and took in countless pilgrims, into her home, during the 1960’s. In the 1960’s she was employed by Angeline Industries in Carey where she helped those with developmental disabilities learn to weave rugs on a loom. She also worked at Our Lady of Consolation School in the lunchroom. In these years Betty enjoyed making matching outfits for her and her daughter for their six-week long trips to California.

Betty McKinnon

In Carey, Betty worked as an administrative assistant for Wetzel Chiropractic, later on working in the office at REB Manufacturing and in the billing department for the Village of Carey. Betty retired from the State Liquor Stores in Findlay, and Fostoria, after which she sold Home Interiors. She loved creating wall arrangements for customers.

Betty was strong-willed, hardworking, and full of energy. In short, Betty ran a tight ship at home and budgeted household finances very well. She made sure her yard and gardens were in perfect condition. The fruits of her labor were evident in the number of vegetables she was able to can, the homemade jellies and applesauce she cooked, plus the meals she prepared. All holidays were extremely important to Betty, she made sure the table was set properly, with flowers, and there was plenty of food for everyone. She enjoyed and looked forward to making her share of food for the family reunions at Limestone Lake. Swinging on the patio swing was her place to unwind, plan events, and have peace of mind.

In her retirement years, Betty could be found spending time with her card flight clubs playing Pinochle. She was always an avid winning Euchre player.

In later years, while living in Tiffin at her condo, she was the president and financial secretary of the condo association. While holding these positions, she was able to play a role in reroofing the three condo buildings while maintaining a strong association budget.

Betty is survived by her children, Ronald (Sharon) McKinnon (the twinkle of her eye, so he thinks) and Shirley (William) Straley; grandchildren, Sarah (Mike) Klimas, Brenda (Scott) Feasel, Lisa (William) Bushong, Chester (Lisa) Straley, Warren (Kelly) Straley, Chad McKinnon, and John McKinnon; and great-grandchildren, Brock and Abbie Bushong, Logan Feasel, and Henry, Sam, Charlie, Lily, and Will Straley.

Betty truly loved her family, cherished her many friends, and enjoyed visiting with nieces and nephews at family reunions.

In addition to her parents and husband Betty was preceded in death by her son, James McKinnon; and her brother, Raymond Rex.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Tuesday, September 26, at Our Lady of Consolation, Carey. Father Tom Merrill, OFM Conv will preside and burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, preferred donations: Our Lady of Consolation School.

Stombaugh-Batton Funeral Home of Carey is honored to serve Betty’s family.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 09/21/23 at 1:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

William C. “Bill” Weldy passed away at 6:57 p.m. Monday, September 18, 2023.

He was born August 2, 1928, to Carey C. and Lillie (Sealscott) Weldy. Bill graduated from Hoaglin Jackson High School. He was united in marriage to Pauline Doner June 19, 1955, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and they lovingly shared over 68 years of marriage.

William Weldy

Bill was a farmer and retired breeder of registered Jersey cattle. The family had shown Jersey cattle at local, state and national shows. He was a former supervisor of the Van Wert County Soil and Water Conservation District, also served as Jackson Township Trustee for 11 years. He was a 50-year member of Wetzel Grange and former Master of Wetzel Grange and Van Wert County Pomona Grange; as well as being a member of the Farm Bureau.

Bill was a more than 68 year member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and had served on the church council.

In addition to his wife, Pauline, Bill is survived by sons, Larry Weldy of Van Wert and Stan (Marcia) Weldy of Middle Point; daughters, Cindy (Todd) Thompson of Findlay, and Jenifer (Greg) Michael of Fremont, Ohio. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, Tim (Lesli) Weldy, Ethan Weldy, Zach (Wynn) Thompson, Zoe (Alan) Gagnon, Chase Weldy, Cameron Weldy, Conner Weldy and Rachel Weldy, Austin Michael, Lillie Michael, and Madeline Michael, and two great-grandchildren, Theodore Weldy and Landon Weldy.

In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by a son Keith Weldy, and two sisters, Lillian Weldy and Mildred (Weldy) Morris.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, September 23, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church with Pastor Will Haggis II officiating. Burial will follow at Woodand Cemetery in Van Wert. Those wishing to pay their respects to the family may do so from 3-7 p.m. Friday, September 22, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, and one hour prior to the service on Saturday.

Preferred memorials: Thomas Edison Center or St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Bell Tower.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Brickner Funeral Home, Van Wert.

Online condolences may be left at or emailed to

POSTED: 09/20/23 at 11:41 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Dale Reidenbach, 64, of Convoy, passed away Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

He was born in Van Wert to William and Annabelle (Steinbacher) Reidenbach Jr., who both preceded him in death.

He is survived by his sister, Marilyn; brothers, William lll, Ronnie, and Gary; a nephew, Daniel (Amber), and great-nieces Jasmine and Emma.

Dale started working in the family business, Reidenbach Trash Service in 1976 and became owner in 1998 after his father’s passing. Dale also started working at Knight Pizza in Convoy in 1976 and became owner in 1998.

Those wishing to pay their respects may do so between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, September 23, at Brickner Funeral Home, Van Wert. Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. with Pastor Steve Drake officiating. Burial in Convoy IOOF Cemetery will take place following the funeral service.

Preferred memorials: donor’s choice.

Condolences may be left at or emailed to

POSTED: 09/19/23 at 12:57 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

It is with grief and sadness that we share the news of the recent and unexpected death of Karen M. Jones, 67, of Phoenix, Arizona.

Karen was born April 4,1956, in Port Huron, Michigan, to Thomas R. and Lucille Jones. She was a 1974 graduate of Van Wert High School, where she was active in choir, sports, and GAA (Girls Athletic Association). She attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church and after graduation she worked at Teleflex.

In her early 20’s, Karen was drawn to the beauty of the western United States. She worked for Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) before relocating to Arizona in the early 1980’s. Karen spent nearly all of her next 45 years living and working in Arizona.

Karen Jones

She worked, lived life to the fullest and thrived at the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) and the village of Tusayan, Arizona until late 1999, where she established lifelong friendships, memories and land baroness status, owning her “beloved ranch” south of Tusayan, Arizona. She then relocated to Phoenix and Scottsdale.

In all her years in Arizona, she was employed in some aspect of the hospitality or travel industry– Grand Canyon Airlines, South Rim Travel, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges (Fred Harvey/Amfac), several helicopter companies and many global corporate travel companies including Carlson Wagonlit.

At the time of her passing, Karen was employed by Direct Travel, as a product support analyst, working remotely in a job she loved and thrived at. Karen was extremely proud of her time serving as an EMT at the Grand Canyon Airport, earning her paralegal certificate, continuing her education with online college courses and the many awards she had bestowed on her during her travel industry career.

Karen loved animals, she enjoyed her independent lifestyle and loved her family and friends.

Karen and her dog, April, were found deceased in their apartment on July 24, 2023. A non-functioning air conditioning unit led to her death of heat exposure. A tragic and senseless death, we continue to seek answers and mourn our loss. Karen was predeceased by her parents, a sister, Janet (Jones) Wyandt and brother-in -law, Philip Ramsey.

She is survived by siblings, T. Lindsay (Amy) Jones of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, Retired Major James (Laura) Jones of Van Wert, and Jacqueline (Jones) Ramsey of Bullhead City, Arizona; a brother-in-law, Richard Wyandt; nieces and nephews, Heidi Jones, Tommie (Christa) Jones, Shannon Jones, Preston (Tammi) Ramsey, Ashley (Josh Smidt) Jones, Derek (Rebeka) Jones, Mackenzie Jones and Melissa Bloomfield; grand-nieces and nephews, Bryton and Jayden Smidt, Bobby and Reese Jones, Shalane and Matthew Ramsey, along with many cousins and extended family members, Christy (Schoenlein) Martin and family and Jonathon and family. Karen also leaves behind many friends and coworkers, especially David and Jackie.

She will be missed by all and was taken too soon.

The family will have a private memorial at a later date.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account, Karen Jones 1956-2023, organized by Jacqueline Ramsey.

POSTED: 09/18/23 at 3:13 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Patsy A. (Harden) Smith, 92, of Van Wert, passed away at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at her residence.

She was born on July 17, 1931, in Mercer County, Ohio, to Ray and Lydia Harden. In 1956, she married Dean H. Smith, who preceded her in death.

Patsy Smith

She was a homemaker.

Pat attended Trinity Friends Church, in Van Wert, for many years.

She enjoyed playing bingo at the Van Wert County Council on Aging, playing scrabble with her children and grandchildren and working jigsaw puzzles. Pat also enjoyed needlework while she was able.

Surviving are three children, Shelly Early of Muncie, Indiana, Roger (Shelly) Smith of Van Wert, and Dana (Barbara) Smith of Van Wert; 15 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; a daughter-in-law, Beverly Smith of Louisville, Kentucky, and a sister-in-law, Wauneta Smith of Van Wert.

In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by a son, Jeffrey D. Smith, and her siblings, Donald and Robert Harden, Jean Chenoweth and Rosemary Herbst.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, September 21, at Gearhart-Sauer Funeral Home, Convoy, with Pastor Matt McGovern, officiating. Interment will follow in Convoy I.O.O.F. Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 12-3 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials: Van Wert County Council on Aging.

To share in Pat’s online memorial, visit

POSTED: 09/18/23 at 2:50 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Joe C. Mendoza, 64, of Van Wert, passed away on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

He was born on November 2, 1958, in San Antonio, Texas, to his late parents, George and Carlota (Cantu) Mendoza.

Joe served his country proudly as a member of the United States Marine Corps, where he demonstrated bravery and dedication during his military service.

Joe Mendoza

Joe dedicated many years of his life working at Eaton. Known for his meticulous attention to detail, he was very particular about how things were done. Joe’s commitment to perfection was evident in every task he undertook.

Outside of work, Joe had a wide range interests and hobbies that brought him great joy. He was an avid football fan and had an unwavering allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys. He enjoyed spending quality time with his family and loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children. In addition to his passion for sports, Joe found solace in gardening and working outside.

Joe is survived by his adoring sisters, Celia Thatcher, Mary Unterbrink, Sylvia (John) Salinas, Irene (Manuel) Alvarado and Christine Keck, all of Van Wert; brothers, Frank and Edward Mendoza of San Antonio, and Simon Mendoza of Van Wert; 21 nieces and nephews; 44 great-nieces and great-nephews, as well as nine great-great nieces and great-great nephews.

In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by his sister, Lydia Mendoza; brothers, Robert, George Jr, David, Gilbert and Raul Mendoza; beloved nieces, Lisa, Klarisa, Cristina, and Lauri, as well as his brother-in-law, Greg Unterbrink.

Visitation will take place from 2-6 p.m. Friday, September 15, at the Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 16, at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, Van Wert, wtih Fr. Chris Bohnsack, celebrant. Following the Mass, Joe will be laid to rest at Woodland Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials: American Lung Association.

To share in Joe’s online memorial, visit

POSTED: 09/14/23 at 11:37 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Gerard Knapke, 86, of Van Wert passed away Friday, September 8, 2023, at Hearth and Home in Van Wert. 

He was born September 11, 1937, in Coldwater to the late Clarence “Dick” and Anna (Uhleman) Knapke. He married Alice Knapke June 6, 2006, and she survives in Van Wert.

Gerard Knapke

He is also survived by children, Kirk and Laurie Knapke of Fort Myers, Florida, and Kory Knapke of Los Angeles, California; stepchildren,Pam and Berry Barnard of Columbus, Bobby and Lori Schlosser of Tennessee, Teresa and Mike Staas of Dayton, and Tami Kercher of Atlanta; three grandchildren, Benjamin and Kalyn Knapke, Alexander and Marissa Knapke, and Kenneth and Mckenzie Knapke, and two great-grandchildren, Collin and Kendall Knapke.

He was preceded in death by a daughter Kelli Knapke.

He was a member of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Van Wert. He was a founding Grand Knight of the Van Wert Knights of Columbus 6034 and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. He was also a Moose Lodge member, an organist at the Elks Lodge for 45 years and a member of the Gold Wings Road Rider Association.

The family wishes to extend a special thanks to family friend Deb Mace Ray.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, at the Hogenkamp Funeral Home in Coldwater. Friends may call from 10:30 a.m. until the time of services on Saturday, September, 16 at the Hogenkamp Funeral Home in Coldwater. Burial will follow in St. Elizabeth Cemetery in Coldwater. 

Condolences may be left at

POSTED: 09/12/23 at 6:27 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries