Walbridge native pieces together town's history PDF Print E-mail
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Saturday, 24 November 2012 08:34
Darlene Limmer, a volunteer on the Walbridge Centennial Committee, shuffles through old photographs of Walbridge collected from her family and community members. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
ROSSFORD - One look around Darlene Limmer's dining room and it's obvious she's into genealogy.
Every space on the table is covered with yellowed newspaper clippings and black and white photos. A laptop stores scans and a library of more newspaper articles. Dozens of high school yearbooks are stacked in a corner.
Limmer is serious about history - specifically her family's in Walbridge.
The interest has surged with the approaching centennial celebration in the village. She's serving as the centennial committee's historian.
"It's your legacy and your beginning. It's always intrigued me," she said. "I just love the old stories."
Ken Smith, treasurer for the centennial committee, said Limmer has helped the group organize photos and memories.
"Darlene's love of the history and of Walbridge is really helping to move the committee along. Her ideas on how to acquire, and more importantly how to share, the history with the public is a real motivator for a lot of our planned activities," he said. "She keeps a tape recorder with her at all times so she can get stories on tape so they can be preserved."
Every photograph of Limmer's stirs a story or a memory.
There's her grandmother dressed up as Walbridge's queen for the bicentennial celebration in 1976. Her grandmother's name provokes another anecdote: "Coloma" was a city where gold was found (El Dorado, Coloma's middle name, was the county).
Her grandfather, Ray, married Coloma, whose family ran A.J. Stein's grocery store in Walbridge. Limmer's dad, Wes, ran Sigler's Red & White Market at 105 S. Main St. for years. They lived in several houses on Union Street over the years. And her father's final resting place is on the same street at Lake Township Cemetery.
"He said he'd never get off of Union Street," Limmer said with a chuckle.
When her grandfather died in 1964, her dad took over the village grocery store.
Darlene Limmer flips through old composites of Walbridge High School graduates.
"My first job was selling penny candy after school," Limmer said. "Walbridge was a railroad town. Everyone would keep a tab, then come in twice a month and pay it."
The family would leave the back door of the store open in case anyone needed to stop in for staples.
But times were changing. The average family didn't need to come to the store once a day for fresh meat, milk and bread. The closing in 1969 was almost a relief to the family, Limmer said. They just couldn't compete with the bigger groceries - often they would buy milk at one of those stores at the cheaper price, then sell it at their store.
Her father graduated from Walbridge High School in 1942. He was a captain on the fire department and treasurer for the village. The two spent an afternoon in 2006 before he died, walking around the village, Limmer recording his memories.
"Everybody knew my dad. He was a grocer. He'd walk the dog every night and talk to people. My mom used to say he could strike up a conversation with a telephone pole."
Limmer's mom, Eleanor "Sue," died earlier this year in April.
Limmer isn't just interested in her own family - she hopes to complete family trees of prominent village families such as Baker, Loop and Ayers.
She's helping to make up an alumni book that features the class pictures from the Walbridge and Lake high schools, 1911 through 2103. It should appeal to families, such as hers, who have had generations graduate from the schools.
"You can find your dad, you can find your uncles, your teacher. My dad and I both had the same fifth-grade teacher."
After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Limmer married husband Mark in 1972 and the next year they moved to Rossford. Limmer, who turned 60 on Friday, retired last year as a teacher of the visually impaired from Elmhurst Elementary in Toledo.
She's volunteered at the Wolcott House Museum Complex in Maumee as a docent and children's summer programming director since 1976.

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