William Rudolph Darr, 89, of rural Fremont joined his parents and all nine siblings in Eternal Life on Saturday, February 4, 2023. At his side in their beloved Riley Township home was his constant companion of 67 years, wife Agnes Darr. On November 8, 1933, after a run of six daughters, Rudolph J. and Mary (Wasserman) Darr welcomed a son, “Bill,” into their loving family. Bill graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1951. He married Agnes Rose Molyet on September 10, 1955 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Fremont, Ohio.
Bill and Agnes both came from large families, so their seven children were a joy to them. Surviving Bill are children Jim, Steve (Ann), Joanne, Lori Darr-Ameling, Ken (Deb), Chris (Tracy), and Matt (Jenny).
Bill started working early, helping his dad at the RJ Darr Dairy. As a young man, he drove bread truck for Tony’s Bakery. He next worked at Shell on the Ohio Turnpike where he enjoyed talking with customers and studying maps on slow midnight shifts. During this time, he attended night classes twice each week at Macomber in Toledo to study auto mechanics. This knowledge aided him in being hired at Whirlpool, where he worked for over 34 years. He was one of only six accepted into the highly competitive Millwright training program in 1966. He spent the remaining years as a Maintenance Mechanic at the plant. Co-workers who didn’t know his name knew of him by his trademark red polka-dotted hat and bib overalls.
Bill worked as hard at home as he did at Whirlpool. With his growing family to care for, he remodeled three houses. Each time he and Agnes moved, it was to a fixer-upper, the final move being to Riley Township. One of Bill’s main goals in life was to own a farm. He accomplished this goal in the summer of 1974 with the purchase of “The Old Fisher Place.” His aunt owned this property, and, visiting there as a young boy, he never dreamt someday it would be his. The eighty-acre parcel consisted of tillable land, trees, and his beloved Green Creek.
The Roman Catholic faith figured largely in the Darr home, and Bill led by example. Prayer before and after meals, Sunday morning Mass, and Stations of the Cross during Lent, no exceptions.
Bill was a longtime season ticket holder for Fremont Ross football. His children attended St. Joe High School, so he’d attend a Ross game on Friday night, then the St. Joe game on Saturday night. He often drove to games out of town to support these two teams in playoffs.
Bill loved all things mechanical. When the older children were young, he took a second job driving school bus, the goal being to pay cash for a new car. That car was a blue 1965 Plymouth Fury. Dubbed “The Good Car” by his children, Bill said he’d buy it new, then drive it for twenty years. He did. As those years went by, the younger children re-named it “The Blue Grinder.”
WJR-“The Great Voice of the Great Lakes”-was a constant background sound as the children grew. In each of Bill’s three ’65 Plymouth Furys, AM 760 was preset. News and sports; two of Bill’s passions. He followed many sports teams, but the Detroit teams—the Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings were his favorites.
Every year, a large garden had pride of place. Bill said their ground was so good, “You have to be careful where you drop a seed.” Each growing season produced a bounty of produce which Agnes canned and froze. Bill especially loved growing sweet corn. In their retirement, Bill and Agnes supplied their children and grandchildren with produce, then took the excess to daily Mass at Sacred Heart. They heard in later years that people would go out of their way to drive past their place just to look at the garden. Although Bill’s health was failing last summer, he took the Gator out to the garden often, weeding with his trusty scratcher on his good days. Agnes and son Chris did most of the heavy garden work during that time, allowing Bill the pleasure of watching things grow. At times, the red polka-dotted hat in the Gator dipped from a contented man taking a snooze in the sun. Surely, God has a garden, and Bill is there now.
As much as Bill loved his home, he had broad vision. An avid traveler, he drove to Alaska three times, as well as to every state except Hawaii. Bill loved maps and roads, so he planned the trips, and Agnes packed homemade food. They took ferries in Alaska and Newfoundland, toured gardens in Oregon, got a ride with a stranger on a potato digger in New Brunswick, climbed vertical ladders in Mesa Verde, ate halibut in Prince Rupert, took a submarine ride with Navy son, Jim, and, in the best interest of their camper, left it behind while they walked across the border into Mexico to purchase “real” Vanilla. On each trip, they found a Catholic church for Mass on the weekend. Bill said they’d travel as long as they were able, and when those days were over, they’d sit on the porch and talk about their trips. He could often be seen on the porch swing his father built, enjoying looking over the fields in Riley, and talking to Agnes.
Bill had a special love for Farmall Cub tractors. After Agnes purchased a computer, son-in-law Jerry Ameling introduced Bill to the “Cub Page,” an online discussion board where he conversed regularly with fellow Farmall Cub fans. He and Agnes incorporated the annual Cub Fests into their trips. The other attendees appreciated his keen mechanical advice on repair issues.
Bill always had reading material in the home, and the computer was another way to gather information. In his later years, he spent a couple of hours each day on his laptop, perusing the Cub page, RV sites, news sites, and newspapers from places they had traveled. (Chicken, Alaska, for instance.) He often viewed YouTube videos in his garage shop to aid in repairing various pieces of equipment. Bill could repair anything, and generously helped anyone, especially his children.
After retirement, he thoroughly enjoyed driving grain trucks for neighboring farmers, scheduling fall trips not to coincide with the harvest season. (Apparently, he really enjoyed those hot dogs at the grain elevator.)
Left to honor the memory of this remarkable man, in addition to his wife and children, are grandchildren Gregory (fiancée Tammy), Nicholas, and Alison Darr, Jessica (Alan) Ameling-Rupp, Kristen (Ray) Robinson, Michael (Amanda) Ameling, Tyler (Maria), Celine, Jamie, Jacob, and Abigail Darr, as well as eight great-granddaughters. Preceding Bill in addition to his parents are siblings Dorothy Darr, John Darr, Rosalyn Shondell, Mary Chudzinski, Sylvia Celek, Grace Peiffer, Celine Novitski, Janet Magrum, and Wayne Darr, as well as daughter-in-law, Judy Darr, and son-in-law, Jerry Ameling, who Bill considered a sixth son.
Visitation will be on Thursday, February 9, 2023 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Wonderly Horvath Hanes Funeral Home and Crematory, 425 E State St., Fremont, Ohio.
Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, February 10, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 550 Smith Rd., Fremont, Ohio. There will be an hour of visitation prior to Mass at the church.
Memorial donations can be made to Sacred Heart Church, ProMedica Hospice, or donor’s choice.
As at any Darr gathering, you will know you are in the right spot if you see seven cars backed into parking spaces. Thanks, Dad. We love you.
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