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Wilbur L Wirt, Jr., 94

Wilbur L Wirt, Jr., 94, of North Baltimore, Ohio passed away at Wood County Hospital on Thursday September 27. He was born July 28, 1924 in Bowling Green to Wilbur and Ruby (Shoemaker) Wirt. He married Sue Gabriel on April 15, 1951, and she survives.

Other survivors include his children: David (Jill Hess) Wirt of Bowling Green and Jane (Larry) Hazelton of North Baltimore; brother: Robert O. (Patty) Wirt of Orange Park, Fla.; grandchildren: Matthew (Melissa) Benedict, Melissa Stoepfel, Brandon Mills, Madison Mills, Sophie Wirt, Hannah Wirt, Julie (Omar) Hajibrahim and Benjamin Smart. He also has 6 great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a grandson: Andrew Benedict.

A life-long resident of North Baltimore, he graduated NB High School in 1942 and attended Bowling Green State University for a year before transferring to The Ohio State University where he graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. He was also an Ohio Senate Page during college, an appointment which sparked his interest in Government.

Wilbur returned to the community to help run the family automobile dealership, Wirt Motor Sales. During his early work years he also trained in metallurgy and worked briefly in that field.

He was involved in community activities, including Scoutmaster for Troop 315, leading a group of Boy Scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch for a month-long camping trip before being called for service in the U.S. Army. After discharge from the Army at Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas, he returned to North Baltimore, where in 1952 he began his public service career as a Justice of the Peace for Henry Township. He always joked that he won his first office as a write-in candidate, winning with 3 votes. Although other write-ins received more votes, they declined and Judge Kenneth Adam, another JP at the time, asked him to accept the position with the promise he would teach him the job. It was the start of over 35 years of public service in the court system.

In 1958, at age 32 after serving six years as a Justice of the Peace, Bill was elected County Judge for the Southern District of Wood County. He maintained his courtroom in North Baltimore until the three county districts were consolidated into offices in Bowling Green. He was elected County Judge three times, serving for nine years in that capacity until the County Court System was dissolved with the formation of the Bowling Green Municipal Court. Uniquely, he was able to serve as Judge even though he was not an attorney after Ohio Law changed to require a law degree since he was “grandfathered” in due to his prior service.

While serving as Justice of the Peace and County Judge, he continued to work at Wirt Motor Sales, where he took over management responsibilities in 1958 upon the death of his father. After closing his automobile dealership in 1965, he was a district sales representative in Northwest Ohio for BF Goodrich before joining the Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court in 1967 as Administrative Assistant.

He became Director of the Juvenile Court Center in 1983, and served there until his retirement in October 1985. He noted upon his retirement that his work at the Juvenile Justice Center helping young people who went through the system was one of his biggest joys.

Bill was also North Baltimore Village Treasurer in 1954 and 1955 and was a local Deputy Registrar of Motor Vehicles where he provided driver’s licenses and vehicle registration services. He also ran a tax preparation business from his home for over three decades, continuing to serve several friends who asked to stay with him even after he ended that seasonal business in his eighties.

He was a member of the North Baltimore Volunteer Fire Department, often driving one of the fire trucks since he was usually one of the first to the station when the siren blew since his business was half a block away. Bill was a member of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church where he had served on Church Council. He was involved in the community as a Rotarian and was also a 32nd Degree Mason and member of North Baltimore Freemasons Lodge #561. He belonged to American Legion Post 539 in North Baltimore as well as VFW Post 1148 Auxiliary in Bowling Green. He served as a board member on the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities until 1982.

Funeral Services will be Saturday, October 6 at St Luke’s Lutheran Church at 11:00am. Pastor Ralph Mineo will officiate. Friends will be received at SMITH-CRATES FUNERAL HOME, 515 N. Main Street, North Baltimore, Ohio 45872 from 2-4pm and 6-8 pm on Friday October 5th with a Masonic Service at 8:00pm. Interment will follow at Old Maplewood Cemetery, where full military rites will be conducted by the North Baltimore American Legion Post 539.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in North Baltimore. Online condolences are welcomed at www.coldrencrates.com.

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