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OBITUARY:
Otha Melvin WHITCOMB

(Died April 13, 2006)

Wauseon; Fulton Co.:
     Otha Melvin Whitcomb, age 82, of Wauseon passed away April 13, 2006 at the Fulton County Health Center. He was born January 1, 1924 in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Orra and Agnes (Austin) Whitcomb. Soon after his birth his parents purchased property in Pike Twp., Fulton County where the family took up residence in 1928 and enjoyed country living.

     Two years later, in 1930 at the age of six years Otha began school in a one-room school known as the Whitcomb School that housed all eight grades under the leadership of one teacher. Otha graduated from this elementary school in 1938, and entered the Wauseon High School the fall of 1938, graduating in 1942.

     After graduation from High School, Otha worked for a short time in industry before entering the military service in World War II on March 13, 1943 training at North Camp Polk, Lousiana. He was later sent to overseas in June of 1944 and was involved in the European Theater of World War II. One of his duties toward the end of the war was to be a relay messenger for the Supreme Head Quarters of General Eisenhower. He was discharged on Feb. 5, 1946 after the war had ended.

     Returning home, he began his college years. Attending the Ohio State University from 1946-1949 graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. He then entered the Bowling Green State University earning a Bachelor of Science in 1951. These degrees allowed him to teach Fine Arts and Industrial Arts in the Public Schools. He later earned a Masters Degree from Columbia University in Fine Arts and Fine Arts Education, in 1957. Otha Whitcombs’ teaching career began: Napoleon Public Schools from 1951-1954, Garfield Heights City Schools 1954-1964, Cleveland Heights City Schools 1964-1966, Pontiac Michigan City Schools 1966-1972 where he was an Art Specialist that assisted 500 teachers in directing students in Art in 29 elementary schools K-6, Eastern Michigan University 1966-1972, as a Substitute teacher 1972-1975 and Delta Public Schools 1975-1978.

      While teaching at Delta, Otha and his art classes designed and then made the ceramic mosaic Panther mural that is in the gymnasium and is a symbol of the Panther Pride of every student that attends there. Otha also designed a large statue of Christ for the façade of the First English Lutheran Church in Tiffin, Ohio. He has also had many works of art displayed at the Toledo Museum of Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio State University, Columbia University and in Biarritz, France. While in Biarritz, Henri Matise, the master of modern art viewed the art work displayed by students and out of an estimated 600 works gave Otha the honor of declaring him the most promising artist.

      Besides teaching, the Whitcombs’ opened a ceramic business known as the “Old Barn Studios” located on County Road 13 north of Wauseon. Students from surrounding areas came for classes and supplies from 1972-1990. 140 students were attending each week prior to the Whitcombs retirement.

      Otha married Mary Belle Onweller, daughter of Hugh and Myrtle (Falor) Onweller on June 15, 1947. and she survives. Their family consisted of one son; Orrin (Paula) Whitcomb of Wauseon who survive and one daughter; Marcia Marie (Whitcomb) Thierry, deceased, wife of Matt Thierry who has since remarried. There are five grandsons: Jeremy, Jason, Jacob and Joshua Whitcomb and Tyler Thierry.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00am Tuesday April 18, 2006 at the Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home.



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Early Schools of Fulton County, Ohio
Charles Paul Keller, corpmiz@aol.com
Created April 17, 2006

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