NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio — Wilbur L. Wirt, Jr., a former justice of the peace and county court judge who ran the auto dealership his father founded, died Sept. 27 in Wood County Hospital, Bowling Green. He was 94.
He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his son, David Wirt, said.
Mr. Wirt retired in 1985 as director of the juvenile justice center in Wood County. He was hired in 1967 by then-Judge Glenn Parsons of the probate and juvenile court to be administrative assistant.
“I don’t think anybody would say they didn’t like Bill Wirt,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), whose job while in high school was to microfilm probate court documents. “He was that person who was on the front lines with attorneys who came in. He had a smile on his face and a chuckle of a laugh. He put people at ease, especially when you had tougher situations that would arise.”
Mr. Wirt, after Army service stateside, returned to North Baltimore and Wirt Motor Sales. He was elected justice of the peace for Henry Township in 1952 and judge of the court serving southern Wood County in 1958. A law degree was not required then to be a county court judge, but he took care with the cases before him and studied the law that applied to each. His mother, Ruby Wirt, served as his court clerk.
“He would be sure of himself and his facts before he made any comment,” said his son, a retired Navy officer who is Mr. Latta’s district director. “He was a very just person.”
Mr. Wirt was not affected by a new law requiring judges to have a law degree. He served until 1967, when county courts were absorbed by Bowling Green Municipal Court.
“I remember Bill from the first time I ran for the state legislature in 1956,” said Charles Kurfess, a former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and later a judge of Wood County Common Pleas Court. “Vis-a-vis North Baltimore, he was the kind of guy, if you were running for office or trying to promote something, you wanted Bill working with you, supporting you, and involved. He commanded that kind of respect.”
Mr. Wirt’s full-time duty was to run the Pontiac and Oldsmobile dealership his father started.
“He wasn’t a high-pressure salesman. He would say integrity is everything,” his son said. Mr. Wirt closed the dealership in 1965 and for about two years was a district sales representative for BFGoodrich.
He was born July 28, 1924, to Ruby and Wilbur Wirt. He was a 1942 graduate of North Baltimore High School, attended Bowling Green State University, and received a bachelor of business administration degree from Ohio State University.
For decades, through the 2018 tax season, Mr. Wirt had a tax preparation service. He had been Boy Scout leader and a North Baltimore volunteer firefighter. He was dedicated to the Rotary Club and belonged to the local Masonic lodge. He’d served on the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Surviving are his wife, the former Sue Gabriel, whom he married April 15, 1951; son, David Wirt; daughter, Jane Hazelton; brother, Robert O. Wirt; eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Friday at Smith-Crates Funeral Home, North Baltimore, with a Masonic service at 8 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, North Baltimore, where he had served on the council.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
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