Harold W. Lanzer (1925 - 2012)

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(News article) HOLGATE, Ohio -- A carpenter and builder by trade who in retirement erected a self-titled museum modeled after Independence Hall, Harold W. Lanzer died Sunday in St. Luke's Hospital, Maumee. He was 87.

He had pancreatic cancer and abdominal sepsis, his wife, Marilyn, said.

After more than a decade of painstaking labor, the Harold W. Lanzer Museum opened in 2007 on State Rt. 18 near his home in Henry County's Monroe Township.

"If you know what Independence Hall looks like, you could take a picture of the two and not tell them apart," said Jim Waisner, a semiretired co-owner of Holgate Lumber.

Several hundred showed up for the open house. The museum contained furniture he made and mementos from his life and his family's past. He gave tours.

The wonder, though, was the building itself: a 3/8-scale replica he designed from blueprints of the Philadelphia landmark. He made the bricks himself -- 60,000 of them.

"He liked history and that building, and he wanted to see for himself if he could build one," his wife said.

He earlier received wide attention with the grandfather clocks he built for the 1976 bicentennial celebration. His design had official recognition, and one of his clocks traveled the country aboard the Freedom Train.

"The precision and workmanship he put into the clocks -- you just can't find a flaw," Mr. Waisner said.

Mr. Lanzer wrote a book, How the American 200th Anniversary Clock Was Born, and a volume of memoirs.

He was born Feb. 20, 1925, to Laura and Carl Lanzer. He grew up on a farm near Malinta and was salutatorian of his class at Malinta-Grelton High School.

He was an Army veteran of World War II and served in Europe. An uncle encouraged his interest in carpentry. With his veterans' benefits, he bought the tools from which he built his career.

Surviving are his wife, Marilyn, whom he married Nov. 6, 1954; daughters, Patricia Newton, Rebecca Newton, Debra Wick, and Sharon Steffel; brothers, Herbert and Wilbur Lanzer; sister, Lavon Maier; eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Zachrich Funeral Home, Holgate, with a recitation of the Rosary at 7:30 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday in St. Mary Church, Holgate, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the church or Holgate American Legion Post 340.

Contact Blade staff writer Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Apr. 19, 2012
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