Posts Tagged With: civic service

100th Anniversary of Bob Ley’s Birth

Grandpa Ley Colt Foutz 1989

Too cool dudes lounging on a back deck at Sunset Beach, 1989. Robert Earl Ley, Jr., left, and his grandson, Colt Foutz.


Happy 100th Birthday, Robert Earl Ley, Jr.


I’m a bit late to the show with this one.

One of the joys of digging into genealogy is, for me, not just discovering the names and dates and wheres and whens of ancestors back, back, back, back up the family tree, but the stories. Nothing seems to crystallize all of that information in a personal, intimate way than discovering photographs of our relatives from long ago.

I’ve been able to gaze upon great-grandparents, dead long before I was born, and in some cases barely a memory to my parents, and feel that connection.

But there’s a similar tickle in collecting photos of your familiar grandparents and parents from a time before you were even a glimmer in their story. To see their familiar faces as infants, or teenagers, or off to college. To imagine their thoughts and hopes and dreams at a moment where they can’t see the future we are only too well-versed in as our family’s history.

Some interesting ways I’ve drawn those parallels have been in projects that snapshot my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ lives when they turned 60 as a birthday present to my mom and dad. And I turned the camera on myself, in a way, when I shared the pictures of my male ancestors growing into men up to the age of 40 in the year I turned 40. (Hint: it was 2016.)

How much more poignant it is, then, to gaze upon photos in order chronicling an entire life. On the 100th anniversary of my grandparents’ births, we did that, first for grandpa Don Foutz’s birth, then for Grandma Sue Weible Ley.

We’ll have to wait a couple years for Grandma Erma Johnson Foutz, the youngest of the bunch, born in 1920. But Grandpa Robert Earl Ley, Jr., is up this year, a few months later than Grandma, and now, a few months after the fact.

Maybe it’s because I was blessed to grow up just down the road and across the town from my mother’s parents: I was used to seeing them in so many daily situations, and at holidays, and birthdays, and just ordinary Saturdays, that the collection below seems so skimpy. That I ought to have more words to say. Though, I guess I have said them in this space many times.

And I’m well aware of albums and slides and troves of photographs that exist elsewhere, which leaves me to wonder and worry about this selection being incomplete. Not really a chronicle, then, but a collection of images that capture the way Grandpa was throughout his life.

From the remarkable infant portrait of him with his mother, Zula, to the shot a short few years later with his father, Robert Sr., knowing that they both had already lost that remarkable, dynamic mother and wife when Grandpa was only 2 — and the sister that might have joined their family portrait.

Grandpa would spend a time with his Fisher grandparents while his father rebuilt a life and remarried. Snapshots of grandpa in the 1930s show him after rejoining his father and stepmother, and, for a time, a little half-brother, Dickie, who would tragically succumb to illness before age 6.

He followed his father’s path into dentistry and public service, and early shots from college yearbooks capture him in the band and on the football team at Ohio Wesleyan as an undergraduate, then transitioning from OWU’s Delta Tau Delta fraternity to graduate school for dentistry at Ohio State, where he’s a fixture on the Psi Omega fraternity page.

Grandma and Grandpa, who’d known each other since their days as Dover schoolmates, were married during a busy time that saw Grandpa enlist in the Marines and serve in World War II. Upon returning home, he thrust himself into civic life, earning election as an at-large city councilman was he was still in his thirties (following a long line of Leys in politics), and working alongside his father, Robert Sr., in their dental practice, by then longest standing in Tuscarawas County.

Snapshots from the 1960s record his civic life (happily, I was able to see these shots in the archives of the local paper), and by the 1970s, his family had grown to include daughter- and sons-in-law, and grandchildren. Some of my first snapshots, on a Kodak Instamatic camera I’d gotten for Christmas (with the disposable flash bar) are of Grandpa and Grandma at home on Parkview Drive, or vacationing with them at Sunset Beach, NC.

Life moves irrevocably forward, and it’s been years since I felt I could still drive up to their house, park by the big pines and walk right into their kitchen to find them sitting around their big, circular table on the other side of Grandma’s purple kitchen cabinets. A last photo in the series below is a poignant shot later in the year after grandma died, when we were able to introduce Grandpa Bob Ley to one of his namesake descendants, Jonah Robert Foutz.

Yeah, I guess there’s some magic in my small collection after all. And a lot of memories. Love you, Grandpa.


Bob Ley: 89 Years in Photographs

(Scroll to view the gallery below, or click any photo for a closeup slideshow.)

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Robert Earl Ley Jr.: 1950s Fluoridation Crusade

Ley RE Jr council at large Daily REporter 9 Nov 1955

The 1950s were a busy decade for grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr. In addition to serving as at-large city councilman for Dover, Ohio, he headed county dentists and was an active voice urging for fluoridation of water supplies to counteract tooth decay in 94% of area school children.

1950s Busy for Dental Ed, R.E. Ley Jr.

From the moment the first Leys in our family left Bavaria and settled in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, they threw themselves into the lives of their community.

Fourth great-grandfather Karl Ley, a saddler and Civil War supplier for the Union Army, also served on the local school board in Shanesville. Wife Susanna Vogelsang Ley, also a German immigrant, was elected president of the women’s guild.

Son Augustus established the first creamery in the county and was proprietor of a long-running dry goods store on the canal in Port Washington. He also served as treasurer and clerk for Salem Twp.

Grandson Charles Henry Ley served on the board of education and city council before gaining election and reelection as Tuscarawas County treasurer from 1911-15.

And great-grandson Robert Earl Ley Sr. — my great-grandpa — after first assisting his father in the treasury office, was a charter member of the Dover Kiwanis Club, a member of the Masonic Lodge in New Philadelphia and of the Shrine and affiliated organizations, in addition to heading up the Tuscarawas County Dental organization.

Which brings us to the ambitious Robert Earl Ley Jr.

Carrying on a family tradition of service, Grandpa Ley would serve on the Dover City Council and participate in Dover Kiwanis, Dover American Legion, Dover Lions Club (as president), Dover Elks Lodge No. 975 (as exalted ruler), the Dover Masonic Lodge (achieving 32nd degree), Tadmor Shrine, Royal Order of Jesters, and Chef de Gare of the 40 et 8 Voiture 117.


Probably, grandpa was at his most civic-ally bustling during the decade of the 1950s. In addition to his role as councilman-at-large in Dover, in 1954, his election as president of the Tuscarawas County Dental Society melded his professional and public lives, and gave him the stage for proposing a contentious. but noble, idea: the fluoridation of the public water supply.

Survey: 94% of School Children with Tooth Decay

The discussion seems to have kicked off with particular fervor around 1953, when a state board of health trailer stopped in town to check for tooth decay in elementary school children. The findings were shocking: 94% of the more than 5,000 kids surveyed were found to have dental problems, according to the reporting of Paul Mico, county TB health educator.

In a Dover Daily Reporter article of June 2, 1954, Mico compares the county’s struggles with what Grandpa Ley encountered in the Pacific during World War II. In this case the Philippines came out on top of the U.S. by a great margin, Mico wrote:

Dr. Ley had the occasion once to check the teeth of 200 Philippine children, and even though their nutritional standards were far below ours, he found only two children with decayed teeth.

One in 100 there, 94 in 100 here. Why the great difference? Candy, pop, gum and other highly refined sweets were practically non-existent in the Philippines when Dr. Ley was there, but they are consumed in huge quantities here.

Aside from the statistical gap, why the fretful concern? The attitude of the day, as Mico related, was that baby teeth weren’t worth caring for, since they were just going to fall out anyway, and that adults could always replace rotten teeth with artificial sets. Dangerous misconceptions, since tooth decay in children can lead to malformed jaws and facial structures, and adults can develop bacterial infections leading to secondary diseases.

Yelchchchhc, right?

County dentists responded to the dilemma with a prescription of healthy nutrition, regular checkups, cleanings and X-rays, and the topical application of fluorine. But the throwing in of these well-trained and civic-minded professionals behind the idea to add fluoridation to the public water supply was met with typical resistance, Mico wrote:

One of the great mysteries in the field… is the great difficulty encountered… in initiating fluoridation of community water supplies. Adding fluoride … will reduce dental decay by 65 percent. It is not dangerous to health; does not add taste, color, odor or hardness to water, costs only 5 to 14 cents per person per yar; and is endorsed by a great many national and state health agencies.

By late summer, county dentists, led by Grandpa Ley, had voted formally to take up the cause of public education and push for fluoridation, according to a September 1954 vote.

Over the following months, Robert Earl Ley Jr. led the charge, presenting to the Lions Club a week after the dentists’ vote and formalizing the platform at a dentists’ meeting in October.

As Mico quoted Grandpa Ley in an October 14 Daily Reporter article:

We are not being selfish in any manner, what-so-ever (Ley said). If every dentist in this county could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from now on, we still couldn’t treat all the people who need treatment. We are facing a great problem and are willing to do everything we can to show the people how they can help themselves.

The dentists concluded by calling on “every PTA, CCL, social and civic group, and school” to join in the cause. But the effort would play out over the course of years.

Carrying Fluoridation to the Ballot

Throughout the 1950s newspaper record, many Ohio communities reflected the national trend by engaging in the fluoridation debate, including Sandusky and Newark years before Dover. By the midpoint of the decade, according to a Sept. 24, 1954 Daily Reporter article, “a thousand (U.S.) cities now drink water fluoridated artificially, and another 400 have ordered… equipment.”

A 10-year study of two New York towns, Newburgh and Kingston, found fluoridated Newburgh reported 47 percent fewer childhood cavities than its neighbor.

By June 1956, Ley and colleague Dr. C. R. Crawley had gained the support of the Dover Chamber of Commerce with a 43-3 vote in favor of fluoridation. But the debate would drag on, with Ley still stumping in 1957-58 before the St. Joseph’s PTA and others, even as cities including Cincinnati and Columbus had voted to reject fluoridation, in Columbus’ case by a more than 2-1 margin.

Grandpa’s time on city council passed without a positive enactment of any law to move forward with fluoridation. And, at least in my search of the public record, his voice seems to go silent on the topic. A reckoning wouldn’t come until until spring 1970, when the state assembly required four towns in Tuscarawas County to vote yea or nay on fluoridation.

In a March editorial that year, Harry Yockey of the Daily Reporter laid out the sides. In opposition to the measure, groups cited concerns about the damaging effects of sodium fluoride on the kidneys and bones. Opponents offered rewards to anyone who could prove definitively that fluoridation isn’t harmful. The Cincinnati Enquirer shot holes in that argument, saying it would be just as well for the public to offer a reward to prove the harmlessness of peanut butter, or milk, or unfluoridated water. Yet, debate persisted, at a time when a mere 40% of Americans received regular dental care. Cost, of course, was also a concern. Not to mention philosophical arguments against mass medication.

The May 5, 1970 vote was an overwhelming “No” with all four cities, Dover, New Philadelphia, Dennison and Uhrichsville blocking any action by the state government to require fluoridation. Only two communities statewide approved the measure.

Subsequent years saw more twists and turns in the debate — but no definitive resolution. In 1971, the state fluoridation law would be ruled unconstitutional. But efforts to require municipalities to act continued. In 1973, the National Kidney Foundation announced no correlation between fluoridation and kidney ailments. Cincinnati legislators OK’d the measure not long afterward (only to see it overturned in 1975). By 1974, nearly half the U.S. population drank fluoridated water.

Back home, in 1974, New Phila proposed, then scrapped plans for a public forum on the topic. In Dover, it seems nothing ever came of the debate, and even today, the discussion continues.


Categories: Ley, newsletter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Earlier Case of Weible/Ley Marriage

Edwin Frederick even looks like a Weible in this bad photocopy. Happily, he married a Ley.

aka Weible Literary Tidbits, Part 4

In a previous post, I shared details of some Foutz family intermarrying, back in the early generations that settled Harrison County. In that case, one of my great-great-great grandfather Gideon Pfouts’s sons, Nathaniel, married Gideon’s great niece, Eliza. Another way of saying it? (And with intermarriage, there’s always another way to say it.) Nathaniel married his own cousin’s daughter.

But the Foutzes were farming folk, with dozens of kids spread across decades, and Nathaniel and Eliza seemed to have lived happily, given the distance of our perspective. They had two kids — a daughter and son — and were married nearly 50 years until death parted them.

This marriage story doesn’t involve blood relations. But it’s interesting, nonetheless, since a Ley-Weible wedding in 1904 foreshadowed by about 40 years the union of my own Ley grandfather and Weible grandmother.

As with the last three posts, kicked off by a sketch of my great-great-great-great grandmother Nancy (Metzger) Weible’s life, the details are culled from the second supplement to The History of Christian Metzger: Father of an American Family, by Ella Metzker Milligan.

Hortense’s Brother… and a nephew of Franklin Eli

Remember Hortense? In our first Weible tidbits post, she shared her perspective on some beloved ancestors.

Hortense was one of five children born to David and Laura Weible. Her siblings: Herbert David, Mary Emma, Edwin Frederick and Harry Garfield. Edwin Frederick becomes the first family connection between the Weibles and Leys when he marries Minnie Mae Ley on Dec. 14, 1904.

Another family history, that of the Powells, had much to say about the Edwin and Minnie Weible family. Let’s start by introducing the bride. Minnie (my great-great-great aunt) was the only daughter of (my great-great-great grandparents) Augustus and Harriet Ley. She was born in January, 1882, educated in the Port Washington public schools, and lived at home until her marriage, at 22. Her father was a store and creamery owner, and served as the township’s treasurer and supervisor.

Edwin’s father, David, was first a farmer and then entered the furniture business before dying young, at 40. But if there’s something the Leys and Weibles of that generation had in common, it’s an enterprising spirit. Edwin first worked as a grocer, then entered the traveling sales trade. His uncle (my great-great grandfather), Franklin Eli Weible, was a hardware merchant, a business that probably (family, educate me here) took my great-grandfather Robert Ohio Weible to the Pittsburgh area, where he crossed fortuitous paths with my great-grandmother, Beatrice Morgan.

So, sales has been good to my family, you could say.

For Edwin, his job likely brought him to Minnie’s door. After they married, according to the Powell history, which predates the Metzger supplement by more than 30 years:

… he entered the office of the Reeves Banking and Trust Co., of Dover, and is now employed by this bank as assistant secretary and treasurer, being also one of the directors. They have a modern home and are enjoying life, as well they may. Later, the writer visited them in 1917, and does not
hesitate to say, theirs is a truly model family.

That family came to include Josephine Elizabeth, James Frederick, Ruth and David Augustus — to whom hip ancestors of mine will refer as “Scoop” or “Scoopie”. And in the coming years, Edwin did his best to build on his reputation.

A Credit to His Family and Community

The Metzger history picks up the veritable threads of Edwin’s career c. 1951. By then, he has devoted some 45 years to the Reeves Bank, 30 to the local Chamber of Commerce, and serves the Moravian Church as a trustee. In 1950, the Dover Chamber hosted a dinner attended by 300 dignitaries, at which Edwin was given its civic award, the fourth person to be so honored. As the local newspaper noted:

A long career of outstanding public service received merited recognition last night. …

While Mr. Wible has made a success of a long and useful career as a banker, his service outside his vocation has been varied and of great civic value.

He was one of the organizers and the first president of the Chamber of Commerce… . He is a former director of the Tuscarawas (County) fair board; served eight years on the board of education, four of them as president; led all five bond drives during World War II, is a past president of the Tuscarawas County Bankers Association, is now serving on the Red Cross Board and is active in church work.

But it was as city auditor, in which position he served 15 years, that Mr. Wible’s services were of most value. His terms were served during a time when the city light plant was being established and when the city was expanding in many other fields and his hard work and good judgment has had much to do with putting the city government on a sound financial basis.

His advice to City Council and to City Hall officials established the foundations under which successive city auditors and city administrators have progressed.

Edwin died in 1957; Minnie (Ley) Weible in 1964. They’re buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, presumably under the “Wible” spelling Edwin’s father, David, came to favor and that David’s brother Franklin Eli apparently abandoned. Model lives lived, indeed. For sketches of his model family, tune in to tomorrow’s post. But before we depart, let’s firm up:

The Weible-Ley Connection

Edwin was in the thick of leading the war bond effort in 1943 when Robert Earl Ley Jr. and Suzanne Abbott Weible were married in October in Oxford, Ohio.

Of course, the couple would have known each other years before, since they were both 1936 graduates of Dover High School.

But how early might their paths have crossed, through family connections?

Edwin and Minnie Weible were Bob Ley’s great uncle (by marriage) and great aunt, respectively. His grandfather, Charles Henry Ley, was Minnie’s brother.

Edwin Weible was Sue Weible’s first cousin once removed (and thus, my first cousin thrice removed, before his marriage to my third great aunt… which is all before I was born, so what’s the diff?) Edwin’s cousin, Robert Ohio Weible, was Sue’s father. His father, Franklin Eli Weible, was Sue’s grandfather.

So, what does it mean that Edwin married his cousin’s son-in-law’s great aunt?

Well, nothing really, except a firmer union of two bright families. To refer back to the first question, about in what circumstances my grandpa and grandma Ley might have first might — whether familial or unfamiliar — I can’t say. Probably this is where helpful aunts and uncles chime in. But I do know that of Edwin’s and Minnie’s children, most were older than Bob and Sue, but David Augustus “Scoop” Weible, was just two years older. Probably they all knew each other, and got along just dandy.

You’ll hear more about the “model” Weible-Ley families in future posts.

Bob Ley married Sue Weible about 40 years after his great aunt Minnie Mae Ley married Sue's first cousin once removed Edwin Weible.

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