STRYKER, Ohio — Vernon Clark Sloan, a fourth-generation farmer who founded an ecumenical, global group that helps people grow their own food, died Saturday at home in Williams County’s Springfield Township. He was 91.
Though in ill health the last year, he still kept an eye on the farm, now operated by his son, Scott, his daughter Marcia Sloan Latta said.
“Even when he was feeling poorly, he would look out the window — ‘I think it’s time to get the beans off. ... Don’t you think you better get the corn in?’ ” Mrs. Latta said. “He was happy to continue to share his wisdom.”
His family farmed there since the 1830s, when President Andrew Jackson granted a deed to Mr. Sloan’s forebears, said his son-in-law U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green). A favorite saying of Mr. Sloan’s was, “One of the things we don’t make any more of is land,” Mr. Latta recalled. “He believed that the purpose was to make sure people were fed. That was his mission — to feed people.”
Mr. Sloan’s efforts led to Foods Resource Bank, which is in 30 countries. For years, he set aside acreage, and encouraged neighbors to do likewise, to grow a type of high-nutrient corn and ship it to places beset by poverty. Even after a dry 1999 cost him a quarter of his crop, he and 70 volunteers spent a day bagging corn bound for Angola.
“... It’s really hard to sit here and feel sorry for yourself when you see how bad these people have it,” Mr. Sloan told The Blade in 1999. “They’re dying every day, the kids and the babies too, because they can’t get the basic type of food, and that’s not right.”
A former board member of the group, Mr. Sloan and his wife, Carol, traveled to several countries the group assists.
In 1991, the couple received state honors for founding the Williams County pork producers group. He was a 2013 inductee of the Ohio 4-H Hall of Fame.
“He might have been soft-spoken, but lots of people listened to him,” Mr. Latta said.
He was born Jan. 22, 1926, on the farm to Dora and Otis Sloan. His father died in a Depression-era farm accident, but his mother enlisted the children to persevere, “at a time when so many people lost their farms,” Mrs. Latta said. “I think that resolve and the hard work they all put into it gave him tremendous appreciation and love for working the land.”
He was a 1944 graduate of Stryker High School. An Army veteran, he served in the Pacific Theater as World War II ended and for a time afterward. He played trombone in an Army band and for years in community bands, and he sang in choirs and gospel quartets. Surviving are his wife, the former Carol Bretthauer, whom he married Aug. 8, 1954; daughters Dr. Rebecca McClarren, Julia Sloan, Diana Sloan-Basner, Marcia Sloan Latta, and Lisa Sloan; son, Scott Sloan; 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildnen.
Visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. Friday at the Stryker United Methodist Church, with a memorial service at 6:30 p.m. Arrangements are by the Grisier Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the Foods Resource Bank, foodsresourcebank.org/do nate; the Stryker United Methodist Church, or the Williams County 4-H Endowment Fund.
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