Posts Tagged With: dentistry

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.


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Tusc. Dentists Honor Dr. Ley in Death | February 1959

Ley RE Sr Jr Dentists 1950s

Robert Earl Ley Jr. (right) returned home from Navy service in World War II to rejoin his father, Robert Earl Ley Sr. (left) in their dental practice in Dover, Ohio.

Dental Society Mourns R.E. Ley Sr.

The death of my great-grandfather, Robert Earl Ley Sr., caught his family and colleagues by surprise. None more so than my grandfather, his son and dental partner, Robert Earl Ley Jr.

The father and son were working alongside each other, as usual, the morning of Saturday, Feb. 7, 1959, when, according to family legend, great-grandpa Ley complained about a strange feeling in his hands while washing up.

He collapsed, and died of a heart attack shortly after 11 a.m. He was 65 years old.

Oddly, Robert Ley Sr. was the second Ley to die while at work. His grandfather, Augustus Ley, died of a stroke while working in his Port Washington, Ohio, dry goods store. He was just 61.

And R.E. Ley Sr.’s father, Charles Henry Ley, former county treasurer, had also died of a heart attack 34 years earlier, at just 59 years old, while gardening at his home. Great-great grandfather Charles had been warned by doctors to retire and commit himself to less strenuous activity.

On the day following R. E. Ley Sr.’s death, his son and fellow Tuscarawas County dentists gathered and issued a proclamation in his honor.

From the Feb. 10, 1959, edition of the Dover Daily Reporter, 65 years ago this month:

A Resolution

Unanimously adopted by the Tuscarawas Dental Society in special meeting assembled, Feb. 8, 1959.

WHEREAS, on Feb. 7th, 1959, God in His wisdom suddenly claimed to his eternal rest our colleague and friend, Dr. Robert Earl Ley Sr., and

WHEREAS, during the more than 40 years of his professional practice among us he was a most valued member of the Tuscarawas County Dental Society, having served as its President as well as in many other capacities, and

WHEREAS, in these services he gave so willingly of his time and talents toward the good of our profession and our Society, and

WHEREAS, through military service and a natural active interest in his fellow man, he took his place and did his part that his neighborhood, his community, our state and nation might be a better place in which to live, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, we do mourn our loss; we bring to his widow and to his son, Dr. Robert E. Ley Jr., who is our esteemed colleague and was his father’s associate, our sincere sympathies in their even greater loss; and finally, direct this resolution be made a part of the records of this Society, a copy thereof be delivered to his bereaved widow, Mrs. Florence A. Ley, and this resolution be printed in the daily press.


Following his father’s death, my grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr. would continue to practice dentistry in their office at 2nd and Walnut Streets for another 32 years. His stepmother, great-grandpa Ley’s widow, Florence (Jones) Ley, would reside in the apartment above the office until her death in 1984.

Breaking the cycle of three generations of Ley men dying before their mid-60s, grandpa Robert Earl Ley Jr. would live to age 89, equaling the lifespan of his great-great grandfather and first Ley in America, Karl Ley.

Ley RE Sr Dental Ofc 1942

Great-grandfather Robert Earl Ley Sr. in his dental office about 1942. In 1940, he still kept his Dover home on Iron Avenue, south of the Tuscarawas River, while maintaining his dental office downtown.

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R.E. Ley Sr. & His “Positive Attitude Theory”

Ley RE III RE Sr Sally Jeanne Betsy

Proud grandpa R.E. Ley Sr. and grandkids Robert III, Jeanne, Sally and Betsy at his Iron Avenue home in Dover, Ohio in the 1950s.

“Scoop” Wible on Robert Earl Ley

Earlier posts on my great-grandfather, Robert Earl Ley, have related the tragic passing, at age 24, of his bride (and my great-grandmother), Zula (Fisher) Ley; the mysterious ailment that claimed the son of his second marriage, Richard “Dickie” Ley; and his own sudden death while working alongside my grandfather, Robert E. Ley Jr. at their Dover, Ohio dental office.

Certainly, there are sunnier memories from Robert Earl Ley’s 59 years, such as the account related here of his passion for hunting dogs, but growing up, the tragic stories made the most vivid impression. And looking back, it’s natural to wonder what the effect such sad passings had on my great-grandfather and his family.

Happily, then, comes this dispatch from relative David Wible that illustrates the “Positive Attitude Theory” of a middle-aged R.E. Ley Sr.

Dave and I have traded messages over the last couple years, mainly related to the extended trunk of the Weible/Wible tree as its roots stretch through Pennsylvania, over the Atlantic, and beyond. But this week he was kind enough to share journal excerpts from his father, David “Scoop” Wible, a contemporary of my grandparents, Robert Ley Jr. and Suzanne Abbott Weible.

Both Dave and his namesake father pull off the neat trick of being a cousin to me through two branches of the family — the Leys and Weibles — and by doing so through means entirely separate from my grandparents’ marriage.

Scoop’s parents — remember? — were Edwin Frederick Wible and Minnie Mae Ley. Edwin was cousin to my great-grandpa Robert Ohio Weible; his father, David (David “Scoop’s” grandfather), was brother to my great-great grandfather Franklin Eli Weible. Minnie was sister to my great-great grandfather Charles Henry Ley, so, an aunt to my great-grandfather Robert Earl Ley Sr.

Edwin and Minnie called 1028 N. Walnut in Dover home for a while, which is where my great-great-great grandpa Harriet (Powell) Ley spent her last decade. And they were patriarch and matriarch of the “model” Wible family written up in W.D. Shirk’s history of the Powells.

Which is all the circuitous route for telling you: David “Scoop” Wible and Robert Earl Ley Sr. were first cousins, even though Scoop was just a year or so older than my grandparents, Bob Jr. and Sue Weible.

Bob and Sue Ley with cousin "Scoop" Wible and wife Dorothy at the Leys' Dover home, sometime in the 1990s.

Bob and Sue Ley with cousin “Scoop” Wible and wife Dorothy at the Leys’ Dover home, sometime in the 1990s.

“Bright and Beautiful” Memories of Dover Swimming Holes

This week, Scoop’s son shared some stories from the pen of his father.

As Dave Jr. related, his father, when he reached his 80s, began to finally set down in print the stories of his youth he’d spun for years for their enjoyment and entertainment. “As you can imagine,” Dave wrote, “I was pretty busy playing tech support on the phone, whenever my dad… would stumble into some speed-key combination in MS Word, losing his way in documents, but it was well worth it to have all these great stories for posterity!”

About the time of Scoop’s 90th birthday, in 2006, the family collected these tales in a volume, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and distributed these to family and friends.

The first story I’ll relate here — with Dave’s blessing — covers Scoop and friends’ adventures in their old Dover swimming spots. But for the middle paragraphs, Scoop relates some of the wit and wisdom of his 23-years-older cousin, and in these sentences, a young great-grandpa Ley seems to step right off the page and speak to you.


From “The Old Swimming Hole,” by David Augustus “Scoop” Wible:

                  In my younger days the only spot available for swimming was a

clearing on the banks of the Tuscarawas River which was called “Yonkers”.

No one ever seemed to know just why this was called “Yonkers” but it had

always been called that and the name was passed down from the older to

the younger boys without explanation.  I say “boys” because we were at

the age and in an era of male chauvinism –no one ever thought to question

the rightness of excluding girls and morally it did seem the right thing to do

since swimming at “Yonkers” was exclusively “skinny dipping”.

          I don’t remember anyone ever showing up at “Yonkers” with a swimming

suit–I suspect he would have been laughed right out of the gang for such

unusual behavior.  Also suits would not have been very practical because of

all the mud in the water–couldn’t have kept them clean. Once there was

supposed to have been a little sand to the bottom but by the time of my

swimming hole days all sand had washed a mile downstream to the “Sand

Bar”. We could have gone swimming at the “Sand Bar” but they charged

money there and you had to wear suits–and also there were girls there–now

in a few more years..!!!

          One thing nice about “Yonkers” was when you reached the age of

11 or 12 and were about 5′ 3″ tall you could just about walk across the

river which was nearly 200′ wide at this point. I say “just about” because

your feet would sink into the squishy mud-clay bottom and you would have

to shove upwards toward the opposite shore, take a deep breath and hold

your nose  to settle back to the bottom to repeat the process.  According to reports from observers on the opposite shore we didn’t look unlike a bunch

of approaching alligators.

          Which all reminds me of one of the theories of my cousin, Dr. Earl Ley.

Earl was not only a very good dentist but also one mighty fine human being.

There is one thing about we Leys–we are never lacking in theories–some

logical–some a little impractical–but no one could say that we couldn’t

conjure up a theory for any situation.  Earl’s forte was the positive attitude

theory which was a reflection of his optimism –but not all of these were of

the practical mold.  Earl did all the dental work for our family and was like

an uncle to me because of our age difference. I remember one day being

in his dental chair for multiple fillings when he started drawing conclusions

about a Tuscarawas River drowning and I knew he was building up to one

of his theories,  He avowed that he could not see how anyone could drown

in a river since all one had to do was go down to the bottom and start walking

across stream until his head surfaced at the opposite shore.

          I remember that during the height of the depression Earl voiced one

of his more positive and plausible theories when he declared he couldn’t

understand how anyone felt he couldn’t go to college because of the lack

of money. “Boy that wouldn’t happen to me” he averred.  “I’d start a peanut

and popcorn stand”. Knowing Earl, he would have–and been successful too.

          But to get back to the old swimming hole. Sometimes if we guys felt

more ambitious  we would hike (six miles round trip more or less) to the

White Bridge where there was a swimming hole a class above “Yonkers”.

This hole was really deep and you had to be a good swimmer to fight the

current.  There also was a rope you could swing out on from the bank and

drop into the hole.  The best feature was that if your feet ever touched  the

bottom it was rock–not oozy mud.

          Later as we grew older we started going over to New Philly where

they had built two fancy swimming pools with white washed sides and

bottoms. These always seemed too antiseptic and sterile–never as much

fun as “Yonkers”. It was after I had left Dover when a pool was built there—

thankfully Dover was reluctant to part with ways so filled with nostalgia.

Categories: Ley, newsletter, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

High School Life in Dover, Ohio, 1935

1935 Dover High School Basketball Reserves

Among the 1935 Dover High School basketball reserve squad was my grandfather, Robert Earl Ley Jr — top photograph, back row, third from right.

1935 Crimson & Grey Yearbook – Dover, Ohio

Among the cool genealogical finds on Facebook — of all places — are pages devoted to an area’s history, usually maintained by a devotee whose family has called the place home for generations upon generations.

Gee, I don’t know anybody in my own family like that.

Seriously, though, the work Dan Slentz has done on Facebook collecting and commemorating Dover’s history is fun, indeed. Everything from mid-19th-century shots of the early canal days to ribbon-cutting ceremonies from the Dover today find a place on his page. And the historical shots are abundant!

In this post, some scans Dan shared from the 1935 Crimson & Grey yearbook of Dover High School, then the Roosevelt High School of my grandparents.

Bob Ley and Sue Weible were still in school that year — as juniors — and my grandpa Don Foutz had graduated a mere three years before.

Above, you see the pic of the basketball reserves, on which Bob Ley (top photograph, third from right in the back row) played.

Other finds:

* sponsorship by Great-Grandpa Robert Ley Sr. of the yearbook — a tradition Mom says grandpa carried on, and from the same dentist’s office

* sponsorship by Miller Studio Inc. — although in New Phila, the offices eventually run by my grandma Foutz’s second husband, Max Miller (a graduate of New Philadelphia High School) also came to employ my grandma, Erma Foutz, and my dad, Fred

* pic of the 1934Dover football varsity — thought Grandpa Ley might have played; closer inspection reveals no

* an ad for Fred Pottschner Ford — which employed my Grandpa Don Foutz, a 1932 alum and former star of the DHS football squad

* a page devoted to the Dover School Board — of which cousin Edwin Frederick Weible was president

Categories: Foutz, Ley, quickie post, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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