Elmore: Mayor remembered for his love of village

Larry Limpf

It seems fitting that one of Rick Claar’s last official acts as mayor of Elmore before he died Monday was to sign an agreement authorizing the village to partner with Ottawa County in a study of extending the county’s regional water system to the village.
Linking to the county system, he reasoned, would be an improvement over the village’s municipal well system. What’s more, much of the cost would be covered by grant money.
“He was a generous, caring individual. He cared immensely about Elmore and the vision of Elmore growing was his ultimate goal,” David Hower, village administrator, said. “He cared for the residents and their welfare and basically wanted to make sure they were taken care of going forward.”
Tom Jackson, president of village council, was sworn in as mayor on Monday afternoon. Hower said the village will seek someone to fill Jackson’s vacant seat on council and appoint a new council president. A special council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7.
Like Lowell Krumnow, who also served as mayor and died while in office, Claar was a tireless promoter/ cheerleader of the village and those who call it their home.
In the summer of 2020, volunteers, organized by Emily Hofelich, took it upon themselves to rake and weed park areas in the village.
Claar was quick to point out how their efforts enhanced the village.
“Emily’s doing a heck of a job. We’re really excited,” he said.” The great thing about this is it’s all people who know, in Elmore, if there is something that needs to be done, somebody’s going to step up and do it.”
Claar was appointed as interim mayor in September 2019 when Matt Damschroder stepped down. Two months later he won the mayoral election, garnering about 59 percent of the vote.
He had served 18 years on council at the time and his impact on the village could be seen throughout the community.
He helped lead council’s efforts to secure a community development grant that funded sidewalk improvements, signage and an informational kiosk along Rice Street. An environmental clean-up of a former gas station site at the corner of Toledo and Rice streets took more than two decades to complete and he helped push for a major upgrade of the village wastewater treatment plant.
Shortly after he became mayor, the Ohio Department of Transportation began work on replacing the State Rt. 51 bridge over the Portage River – a project that for months limited traffic flow into the village downtown business district – and Claar worked to promote the district.
Claar was also employed by the Woodmore School District as a bus aide and recess monitor.
“He loved the kids,” Hower said. “I know from my own grand-children that he made sure their coats were buttoned and their hats and gloves were on before they stepped on the playground on cold days.”
Tim Rettig, Woodmore superintendent, said Claar worked for the district for almost 12 years.
“He was such a great guy, always with a smile. He always wanted to talk to me about Elmore and kept me up to date with everything going on with the village. I was really excited about the things he had going and the direction of the village. I hope to see that continue,” Rettig said.
Claar was a graduate of Woodmore High School and for many years owned Elmore Five & Dime on Rice Street. He was also the president of the Elmore Historical Society.
The Facebook page of the historical society paid tribute to him:
“We lost a great man today—our Society President and Elmore Mayor Rick Claar. Always the first for a kind word and a big smile, his love of history and the residents of Elmore were foremost on his mind. In the years since our Society founder Lowell Krumnow’s death, he really stepped up to fill the gap by continuing each festival, finding ways to preserve history and making it accessible to the public. Thank you Rick for everything you have done to make Elmore the best it can be. You will be sorely missed.”


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