Schuler remains young at heart

Feeding the birds is one of life’s pleasures for Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

In every way, Judson Schuler, 94, belies his age.

His mind is as sharp as a tack. He recalls incidences from 60 years ago as if they happened yesterday. And yet, he can more than carry his own in conversation about current events.

For a man is his 90s, Schuler has maintained his health, too. He attributes that to his regular physical workout routine three times a week at a local physical fitness facility.

“I like to stay active,” Schuler said. “I think it’s one of the secrets to staying healthy while getting old and enjoying it.”

He is true to his word.

“I still like to mow and help out with raking and gathering the leaves,” Schuler said. Given the size of his property, that is no small task. Schuler lives on Briar Lane in Millersburg, Ohio. His late wife, Beverly, was the daughter of the president of Briar Hill Stone in Glenmont.

“The original idea for our development was that every home would be built using their stone,” Schuler said. “It was to be a model for what could be done in construction.”

“Bev and I built this in 1956,” he said. “It still suits me well.” Accordingly, the home was built using the decorative, multi-colored sandstone. The Schuler’s were married 62 years. Schuler has a son, a daughter, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

The living room and den to the back of the stately home both have large windows and sliding glass doors that afford Schuler good views of the wildlife that he so adores.

“I enjoy feeding the birds, especially the goldfinches,” he said. Indeed, he has a thistle feeder and a hopper feeder in the spacious backyard. His binoculars hang at the ready by his favorite chair.

Schuler also gets great pleasure from watching other wildlife, like squirrels and deer that scurry through his tree-studded backyard. Though he wouldn’t ever say so, Schuler certainly has earned his right to leisure away his days.

Schuler was a noted attorney in Holmes County for many years. He practiced law well into his ‘70s. His late brother, John, was one of his partners. Ray Miller was the other.

“I still have an office in the firm,” he said. “That was part of the sale, that John and I would always have an office to go to.”

Schuler said that when he began practicing law in 1946, Millersburg had six or seven attorneys.

“Now I think there are 20,” he said with an ornery smile.

Schuler said he no longer practices, but that he still goes to the office occasionally just to check in with the other attorneys. The Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston law firm bought Schuler’s Millersburg firm when he retired.

“My middle name is Critchfield,” Schuler said. “I’m a second cousin to that family.”

Early in his attorney days, Schuler was once the Holmes County prosecutor. But his heart was in private practice.

With his successful career behind him, Schuler takes one day at a time and enjoys every minute of his experiences. That approach might be because his life has revolved around relationships with his clients, his friends, his community activities and his family.

Schuler has served in several civic capacities. He was the local veterans service officer. He served on the development disabilities board, the airport authority, and several years on the board of directors of the Commercial and Savings Bank.

Schuler was also appointed by the governor to serve on the Ohio Public Health Council, which processed all the rules for mental hospitals, nursing homes, and even public water supplies.

“That was an incredible experience for me,” Schuler said. “I learned a lot during those 12 years.”

Schuler is also a member of the American Legion Post 192 and was made a life member of the Killbuck VFW.

Schuler served in the Army during World War II and fought in the battle of The Bulge. He can rattle off details of war stories as if they had happened yesterday.

He likes to read a lot, too, focusing on “the great people at the beginning of the Republic.” Schuler also likes golf and of course, watching Ohio State football games. He has owned season tickets for 50 years, as he received both his bachelor’s and law degree from The Ohio State University.

Though he has traveled the world and had many exciting experiences, Schuler still considers himself “a small town guy.” Likely, there are plenty of local people thankful for that.

Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, often relaxes in his den.

Tornadoes hit Ohio’s Amish country again

Secrest Garden by Bruce Stambaugh
The entrance to the Secrest Garden and Arboretum after the tornado.

By Bruce Stambaugh

For the second time this summer, tornadoes caused significant damage in Ohio’s Amish country.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16 a powerful tornado touched down on the south edge of Wooster, Ohio along Prairie Lane. The tornado, which the National Weather Service rated an EF2, proceeded east destroying businesses and homes, and crossed Madison Ave. onto the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, a division of The Ohio State University.

The tornado caused extensive damage to campus buildings, including some historical homes used as offices. It also destroyed the machine shop and heavily damaged parts of Secrest Garden and Arboretum, where many people love to walk and relax among the roses, ornamental shrubs and old age trees. The tornado clipped off dozens of the huge trees 20 to 30 feet above the ground.

The Wooster Twp. Fire chief reported that only one person was slightly injured. But she refused transport to the hospital.

The tornado continued on an east northeast path destroying and damaging several other homes and farm buildings. It did considerable damage to the Riceland Golf Course on U.S. 30 south of Orrville. Altogether, the NWS reported that the tornado was on the ground for 12 miles and reached wind speeds of 130 m.p.h. It left a path of destruction 200 yards wide.

Around 6 p.m., an EF1 tornado hit near the rural town of Farmerstown, Ohio in Holmes County about 25 miles south of Wooster. Several homes and barns were destroyed or damaged there. But again, no one was injured, although some farm animals had to be put down. The tornado was on the ground for three miles and reached a maximum speed of 100 m.p.h. It ranged from 50 to 75 yards wide.

As a Skywarn severe weather spotter for north central Holmes County, the Cleveland office of the National Weather Service asked me to photograph the damage at the OARDC. This was prior to knowing of the tornado in Holmes County. No tornado warning was issued for Holmes County.

I arrived at the OARDC shortly before 7 p.m., which left me a little more than a half an hour to take pictures before dark. I shot as many pictures as I could, but due to darkness, was unable to make it entirely around the campus. As I walked back to my car, parked in the arboretum a half mile east of the damaged OARDC buildings, I cut through open fields. I found several places where debris had hit the ground, leaving large gouges in the fields and grass.

The first tornado of the summer hit Holmes County and continued into Tuscarawas County on June 5. The EF1 and EF2 tornado caused extensive damage along its 10 mile path.

A gallery of some of my shots at the OARDC is shown below. Information about the Farmerstown tornado can be found here: http://www.holmescountyjournal.com/.

brick house by Bruce Stambaugh
Trees were snapped and the old Rice House heavily damaged at the OARDC in Wooster, Ohio.
damaged OARDC building by Bruce Stambaugh
One of the many OARDC buildings destroyed by the tornado
View of damaged OARDC building by Bruce Stambaugh
Another view of the building shown above.
Debris and stripped trees at the OARDC by Bruce Stambaugh
Debris and stripped trees at the OARDC.
Large trees down by Bruce Stambaugh
The tornado toppled large trees on the OARDC campus.
The OARDC's machine shop was heavily damaged by the tornado.
The OARDC's machine shop was heavily damaged by the tornado.
Machine shop destroyed by Bruce Stambaugh
Following the tornado's path to the machine shop at the OARDC.
Damage at the OARDC by Bruce Stambaugh
Damaged farm equipment and trees at the OARDC.
More damage around the machine shop by Bruce Stambaugh
More damage around the machine shop at the OARDC.
Another destroyed building at the OARDC by Bruce Stambaugh
Another destroyed building at the OARDC.
Destroyed machine shop by Bruce Stambaugh
The destroyed machine shop at the OARDC.
Debris littered the OARDC campus by Bruce Stambaugh
Debris from the tornado littered the OARDC campus.
OARDC police station by Bruce Stambaugh
Damage was extensive at the building that housed the campus police station.
The agricultural engineer building by Bruce Stambaugh
The agricultural engineering building was destroyed.
Rose garden by Bruce Stambaugh
The OARDC rose garden was heavily damaged.

A love for agriculture come full circle

By Bruce Stambaugh

It’s no accident that Leah Miller’s life has come full circle. Agriculture runs deep in her genes, personal life and in her professional career.

She grew up on a farm, and now her life is all about farming, both at home and on the job, whichever particular job it is she happens to be doing. In between, her career took a productive, if not circuitous route before Miller, 61, planted her agricultural roots.

Leah Miller by Bruce Stambaugh
In a rare moment, Leah Miller was in her Small Farm Institute Office in Coshocton County, Ohio.

Born in Conneaut, Ohio near her parent’s home farm at Pierpont, Miller followed some pretty big family footprints. Her father and her father’s father were both agricultural teachers, in addition to running separate farms in Ashtabula County.

Miller’s mother, Celia Wright, took charge of the family farm when her husband, Eber, moved into regional planning. Ironically, that is exactly the job Miller took in Lake County after graduating from The Ohio State University in 1971. She became Holmes County’s regional planning director two years later.

There is a bit of double-irony in this scenario. The Holmes County regional planning office was in the front of Hotel Millersburg.

“My parents spent the first night of their honeymoon at Hotel Millersburg,” Miller said. “They got a late start from their wedding reception in Columbus and following U.S. 62, Millersburg was as far as they got.”

Miller served in this capacity for six years. Once she and her husband, Mic, started their family, Miller turned her efforts to community service. She served two terms on the West Holmes Local School Board. Later, she served on the board at Central Christian School. She also served a term on the Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale board of directors, and was a 4-H advisor for a dozen years.

Miller was the first director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, once it expanded from beyond Millersburg proper. In the 1990s, Miller’s leadership abilities became political. She was twice elected as a Holmes County commissioner.

All the while she found solace from her demanding schedule on her 50-acre sheep farm, Blue Bird Hill, east of Millersburg. She also kept bees, as did her father.

Her love for land and the people that farmed stirred within her. In 2001, she worked with former state representative Joy Padgett to form the Small Farm Institute.

“There was a concern about erosion and farming,” Miller explained. “The emphasis was to help farmers do more grazing with their animals.” She said the sod would help reduce run-off, and at the same time provide a natural grass diet for cows, cattle and sheep.

Miller is the director of the Small Farm Institute, which is based at the United States Department of Agriculture’s hydrological station in Coshocton County. She assists small farm operations to improve income by providing helpful information on sustainable environmental practices that support strong family and rural communities. Her focus is on production, processing and distribution of product.

“We encourage people to look for value-added production to enhance profitability,” Miller said. “If they run a produce stand, they can increase their income by making jam or canning instead of selling all their fruit and vegetables fresh.”

Much of Miller’s responsibility revolves around facilitating grazing groups. She said this has been especially successful among the Amish, who tend to form their own peer groups in close proximity to help reduce the need for transportation.

“It’s been a joy to watch them expand,” she said. “They hold pasture walks where they share helpful grazing information with one another.”

As satisfying as that is for Miller, she also supports much larger events. Her skill sets also assist the annual North Central Ohio Grazing Conference for Dairy, which brings in hundreds of people, including many from other states.

Miller also advises the planning committee for the upcoming annual Family Farm Field Day. David and Emily Hershberger will host the event on their farm, located on Saltcreek Township Road 613 in Holmes County, on July 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As if she weren’t busy enough, Miller works part time as stakeholder coordinator in agricultural economic development for the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. She splits her time between there and the Small Farm Institute. Miller is the executive secretary of the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council, too.

Miller has traveled extensively, including Australia, Mexico, France and Honduras, touring grazing and farm production operations and doing a little mission work, too. She uses these experiences to expand what she shares about improving local farming practices.

It seemed only logical then that Miller’s leadership abilities be put to use in yet another positive way for the community. Miller has successfully lead Leadership Holmes County for employees of area businesses for several years. In that fact, there is no irony.

This article was first published in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, July 5, 2010.