Joseph Polhemus

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Joseph Burton Polhemus, Jr.

MANSFIELD: Joe Polhemus did not seek challenges during his lifetime but when they came he met them with a fierce determination befitting his Dutch heritage. He met challenges with his own sense of wry humor.

Joseph Burton Polhemus, Jr. died Wednesday, February 06, 2013 at Hospice of North Central Ohio after a long illness. He was born March 18, 1919 to Joseph B. Polhemus, Sr. and Louise (Boyd) Polhemus while his father was in France at the end of World War I. He grew up on a farm in the Spoon River village of Fairview, IL. He graduated from Fairview Community High School and from the University of Illinois in 1940, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.

Polhemus worked briefly on a weekly newspaper in suburban Chicago before going to work for United Press International in Chicago, and later, in Milwaukee where he met and married his first wife, Berenice Elizabeth (Woodward) Polhemus on December 26, 1942.

He spent World War II at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where he graduated from Officer Candidate School and became a public relations officer. In 2008 he took an Honor Flight with other Ohio Veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial. After the war he worked briefly as a senior writer for the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company before joining the Advertising Department at The Ohio Brass Company in 1950, retiring in 1984 as Manager of Communications. While at Ohio Brass, he served as president of Industrial Marketing Club of Cleveland; the Marketing Communications Research Center, Princeton, New Jersey; and the Marketing Club of North Central Ohio which honored him as man of the year in 1982.

In his community life, Polhemus headed the Richland County Chapter of the American Red Cross, The Mansfield Richland County Public Library, the Richland Community Service Center, Richland County Transit, Ranchwood PTA, Woodland Club, Kiwanis Club and Hermit Club. A plaque in the lobby of the Richland Community Service Center honors Polhemus as the longest serving trustee of the Center.

He said his proudest community accomplishments were presiding over the 1976 Bicentennial Parade, the most watched parade in Richland County History, and dedication of the remodeled Mansfield Richland County Public Library in 1979.

Polhemus was active in the Congregational Church both locally and internationally. At the Mansfield church, where he was elected an honorary deacon in 1999, he headed the fund drive that paid for the chapel and church retreat site at Hemlock Falls. While he was head of the Board of Christian Missions, his church founded a medical clinic in South India.

Among offices in the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) magazine, The Congregationalist, the country's oldest religious publication which he edited for 15 years, retiring at age 85. His editorship brought him a special citation in 1996 from the NACCC and a special tribute at the Mansfield church by the president of Piedmont College, (Demorest, GA). Upon his retirement, the NACCC established an endowment fund in his honor.

He enjoyed reading, especially history, followed sports of all forms, played tennis into his eighties.

He is survived by his wife, Sophie M. (Crittenden) Polhemus; his daughter, Ellen and son-in-law, Edwin Stiffler, Jr., of Mansfield; three step sons and their wives, Robert and Yolanda Crittenden, San Antonio, TX, Mark and Laura Crittenden, Chesapeake, VA, and Chris and Sherry Crittenden, Arlington, VA; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife of 56 years, Berenice Polhemus; his brother and sister-in-law, William B. Polhemus and May (Jones) Polhemus; his son, John R. Polhemus; and his step daughter, Laura A. Crittenden.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at First Congregational Church, 640 Millsboro Rd., Mansfield, conducted by Rev. Dr. David Hartzfeld. Friends may call prior to the service starting at 9:30 at the church. In lieu of flowers, contributions in honor of Joe may be made to the Joseph B. Polhemus Congressionalist Endowment Fund or Hospice of North Central Ohio.

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Published in the News Journal from Feb. 9 to Feb. 28, 2013
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