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Walter Lee Champlin
Walter Lee Champlin, 93, of Ashtabula Township, passed away unexpectedly of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, Sunday, September 24, 2017 at his home.
He was born on May 30, 1924 in Conneaut, Ohio, the son of the late Oren Everett and Anna Charlotte (Michaels) Champlin. Walter was a graduate of Conneaut Rowe High School, Class of 1942.
After completing high school he worked for True-Temper Corp. for seven months and then joined the Army Air Corps, December 12, 1942, five days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942, to serve alongside his older brothers, (Alfred, US Navy), (James, US Army), and (Fred, US Army). All four boys made it home alive. The only living brother today, James, 95, of Ashtabula, Ohio, is a survivor of the D-Day Normandy Beach Invasion of World War II.
After training for two years, state side in aircraft engine repair, Walter was sent to the South Pacific island of Tinian, west of Hawaii, where our countries largest and longest air strips were under construction. Tinian is where the A-Bombs, used on Japan, were secretly being assembled underground in top secret. The B-29 Bomber, Enola Gay, piloted by Col. Paul Tibbits, who dropped the A-Bomb on Hiroshima, was also hidden away on the island in top secret with its’ own flight crew and mechanics. No one else could get near it; this area was rigidly secured in many ways.
After serving his country for three years, Walter returned home in January 1946 and went back to work for True-Temper Corp. until November of 1946, when he and a friend decided to go on a motorcycle adventure to Alaska with hardly one hundred dollars between the two of them. The plan was to head south and then across the U.S. and up the west coast and work along the way for money. While working on a ranch in Peoria, Arizona, Walter met the love of his life and future wife, Bessie Helen Young, at the local post office where she was working as a clerk. At this time struck by love, he decided not to continue the trip to Alaska, and his friend went on alone. After a short romance, he returned home alone and worked for Sanborn Motors in the machine shop for four months, utilizing his military engine repair skills. He earned enough money to buy a car and returned to Arizona where he and Bessie married on August 30, 1947. Her father was against the marriage stating that Walt was a rambling, no good, motorcycle bum and would never amount to anything, but their marriage lasted 50 years, until her death in 1997.
Upon returning home with his new bride, he attended Aeronautical School in Cleveland, while Bessie worked for the East Ohio Gas Company. After Walter completed Aeronautical School, the couple decided living and working in the city of Cleveland was not for them. They came to Ashtabula where he worked for the Electromet for one year and then in 1950 went to RMI for the rest of his career, retiring in 1985. Walter was a Salt Evaporator Operator for many years with the nickname, “Old Salty.” During this time he trained at RMI, going from C, B and finally to A electrician, which he was for the rest of his 35 years there.
Walter was a true craftsman in every area. He built his own home on Route 84 in 1963. He enjoyed wood crafting and made several board games, a desk, record cabinet, a steel guitar for himself, a ranch-style doll house and toy garage and other toys for his two daughters, also a rabbit hutch, bird houses, a Model Wells-Fargo Stage Coach, plus many more items. Walt finished his final project, at age 90, a beautiful working four foot windmill, which he gave to his daughter Yvonne and her husband Alan, and is now displayed in their yard.
He also enjoyed assembling scenic puzzles and he liked to read western novels. Walter was an excellent artist and loved to draw and paint. He was also an avid gardener and enjoyed taking care of the lawn.
Walt was a member in good standing at Gateway Church (formerly Assembly of God Church) and faithfully attended every Sunday, until his health declined to where he became too weak to walk or travel.
Mr. Champlin is survived by his two daughters, Yvonne (Alan) Dieffenbacher and Vickie (Gary) May; one brother, James (Evelyn) Champlin; two grandchildren, Jeff (Erin) Fenner and Holly Ginnis; seven great-grandchildren, Tay, Kodie, Jacob and Bethany Fenner and Pete and Randy Ginnis and Shawn Sickinger; three great-great-grandchildren, Damarion, Dezarae and Harmonie Fenner; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, of 50 years, Bessie Helen (Young) Champlin in 1997; his parents, Oren Everett and Anna Charlotte (Michaels) Champlin; his two sisters, Pauline Hoover and Esther Champlin; and his five brothers, Milton and Martin in infancy and Alfred, Fred and Arlin Champlin.
The family is honoring Walter’s wishes of having a private graveside service, which will be officiated by Pastor Ryan Nevil, of Gateway Church, at the Greenlawn Memory Gardens, Center Rd., North Kingsville, where he will be laid to rest next to his wife, Bessie. The American Legion Dewey-Howlett Post #103 will perform full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in memory of Walter may be given to Ashtabula Community Action- Meals-On-Wheels, 3215 Lake Ave., Ashtabula, Ohio, 44004.
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