Lifelong Bryan resident Art Spletzer died peacefully at the home he built and lived in for 69 years on Monday, April 13, 2020, surrounded by family. Art was born January 20, 1922, in Bryan, Ohio, on Center Street, in a house that is still standing to the late Arthur and Clara H. (Miller) Spletzer Sr. (who were also lifetime residents of Williams County). As a child Art loved the outdoors and spent hours hunting, fishing, skating and swimming. In elementary school he began building bird houses as a business and sold them to neighbors in the area. In high school Art participated in football and track. He often spoke of hunting after school with his high school principal; both brought their shot guns to school and left from there. What a change from today’s life! Art graduated from Bryan High School in June 1940 and worked through December in order to have money to attend Ohio State University where he started in January 1941 majoring in business. After Pearl Harbor, Art enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Upon completing officer candidate school as a lieutenant, he was stationed in various bases in the southern United States as a WWII fighter pilot instructor, flying P-47 Thunderbolts. In the summer of 1945, he was called to California for the invasion of Japan, but shortly thereafter the bombs were dropped on Japan and Art was released from active service. Upon leaving the army Art returned to Ohio State University as a reservist while finishing his degree.
On April 6th, 1947, Art married Ann Neal in Bryan. They moved to Columbus while Art finished his degree. Art graduated with a degree in Aviation Business in December 1947. Having been accepted into the University of Michigan Law School and receiving job offers in the Columbus area relating to his degree, he ultimately decided that he wanted small town life and returned to Bryan. He related several times that this was a decision he never regretted.
He and his father operated Spletzer and Son Construction Company. Art ran the business as Spletzer Construction until 1995 when he retired. He built many residences in the county in addition to commercial endeavors that included Spangler Candy Company buildings, additions to Cameron Memorial Hospital (WCCH) and hotels in Holiday City.
Art and Ann were devoted members of the First Presbyterian Church of Bryan. He taught adult and children’s Sunday School classes. He was an outreach minister for several small rural churches, served on the committee for the building of the new church and was a deacon and elder for many years. During the past few years Art was on one of the Community Dinner Committees and enjoyed serving that cause.
Art believed in serving his community and did so his entire adult life. He served on the Bryan School Board for 20 years (his three daughters remember that this enabled him to present diplomas to each daughter), was elected to the Bryan City Council from 1974-81, was involved in the founding of the Bryan Area Foundation and served on the Board until 2016.
He was the fundraising chairman for the YWCA (now YMCA) and on the architectural committee for the Bryan Senior Center. In 1987 he was honored with the Bryan Good Citizen Award due to his unwavering contributions to the community.
One of Art’s proudest accomplishments was his involvement in the founding of Four County Technical School and Northwest Technical College (now Northwest State Community College). He spent many years working on the organization of these schools. Appointed by Gov. J. Rhodes, he served on the Four County School Board and as a member of the founding Board of Trustees for Northwest Technical College. He was very proud to have been a part of development of these schools and was excited at their expansion.
In addition to hunting and fishing Art was an avid golfer and belonged to Orchard Hills Country Club, serving as president several times. In the last few years of his life Art lamented the closing of this course. He had fervently hoped it would become a public course for this community.
After retiring Art served as a construction mediator and expert witness for the Williams County Courts. He worked for many years with Habitat for Humanity, was instrumental in the construction of The Imagination Station and served the Bryan community in many other ways. He also continued to work in his home woodworking shop making furniture, rebuilding a vintage canoe and making beehives. Beekeeping became a hobby he took up in his backyard. He and Ann enjoyed traveling abroad, throughout United States and Canada. Since high school he had desired to travel China and he and Ann took a fascinating trip there. In 2001 they were traveling in Spain and France when 9/11 occurred. They both felt strong moral support from the people in Europe during this tragic time.
Art was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Ann Neal Spletzer and his only brother, Eldon. He is survived by his daughters Nancy (Jeff Ricklefs) Spletzer of Idaho Springs, Colorado, their children, Emily and Joel and great grandson, Raleigh; daughter, Janet Spletzer of Asheville, North Carolina and her children Stefan and Nathan Kelischek; Daughter, Barbara (Craig Cheetwood) Spletzer of Maumee, Ohio and Florida and their children Hannah and Sam; nephews and niece, Eric, Craig and Karen Spletzer and sister-in-law Mary Spletzer all of Cincinnati, Ohio. Both our parents loved Bryan and gave us a wonderful childhood here; All of us will miss Bryan, and know that it will always be in our family’s hearts.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, there will be no visitation and interment will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date after the pandemic restrictions have been lifted. Arrangements are under the care of Oberlin-Turnbull Funeral Home, 206 North Lynn Street, Bryan, Ohio.
.Memorials are requested to The Bryan Area Foundation Ann Neal Spletzer and Arthur Spletzer Jr. Memorial Endowment Fund, Post Office Box 651, Bryan, Ohio, 43506.
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