July 1, 2016

Mostly clear

The Dash Between: Frank Ehrman dedicated his life to future generations

The dates of birth and death that appear like bookends on a tombstone do not matter as much as the dash between those dates. Award-winning writer Alana Baranick has made her living writing about the dash between. She’s focusing on Medina and Lorain counties and those who have made our area the unique and interesting place it is. Look for her stories on the first Monday each month in The Gazette and visit www.medina-gazette.com to find additional photographs.
To suggest a story or make a comment, contact Baranick at abaranick@chroniclet.com or (440) 865-2518.
Today, Alana Baranick examines The Dash Between Oct. 13, 1933, when Frank Ehrman was born in Cleveland, and Sept. 9, 2011, when the longtime York Township trustee died at age 77.

Frank Ehrman liked to invite people to his York Township farm to see his B&O Railroad caboose, chat on the porch of an old log cabin in the woods and introduce them to his favorite trees.

Not long before Frank died of complications from pancreatic cancer Sept. 9, 2011, at age 77, his friends Chuck and Sue Hawley went for a ride with him to the log cabin on his 300-acre dairy farm.

Future dairy farmer Frank Ehrman poses with what may have been his first calf, probably in the late 1940s. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Future dairy farmer Frank Ehrman poses with what may have been his first calf, probably in the late 1940s. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“We sat there and talked for an hour or so, as he identified every tree in the woods,” Chuck Hawley said. “He talked about them as if he had known them from the day they were born.”

His primary mission in life seemed to be preserving and/or restoring natural habitats, historic landmarks and artifacts for future generations.

He was born Franklin C. Ehrman on Oct. 13, 1933, in Cleveland. He was 3 years old when his father, also named Frank, died.

His mother, the former Nettie Drazny, soon moved out of the city and returned home to her parents’ farm on Branch Road in York Township. She then married George Sedivy, who raised Frank.

Frank’s grandfather, who ran a small dairy farm with about 10 cows, provided the basics for his farming education.

“When he was growing up, they were farming with horses,” said Frank’s wife, Marilyn. “Then they transformed to using tractors.”

Frank joined the 4-H Club and became involved with the Medina County Fair at a young age. As an adult, he served 19 years as a 4-H adviser and received the 4-H Meritorious Service Award.

He bought his first registered Holstein calf in 1947, when was around 14. He continued doing farm work after graduating from York High School in 1951.

Frank met Marilyn Duke when he went to visit a veterinarian friend and ride along with the vet on a “farm call.”

“I was baby-sitting for the veterinarian in Medina,” Marilyn said. “They were good friends. He was told I would be baby-sitting. I think there was a plan (for them to meet), but I wasn’t told that. He walked me home.”

Frank was drafted into the Army in early 1956 and went home on a furlough to marry Marilyn at First Baptist Church in Medina on Dec. 26, 1956.

“It was a cold winter day,” Marilyn said. “Our honeymoon was driving back on Old Route 66. That was a memory! We took 66 all the way to Arizona or California and drove up to Washington. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington.”

Marilyn wasn’t sure whether they headed north from Route 66 in Arizona or California, blaming her inattention on such details to her being a newlywed.

Around Easter 1957, Frank was sent home for good.

“At that time they were giving farmers deferments,” his wife said.

Frank purchased his first farm in 1957 and moved over the years to larger farms that could accommodate his many cattle. At one time, he tended more than 100 milking cows.

He soon established even deeper roots in the community. He served as a York Township trustee for 35 years and on the township appeals board for four years.

While serving as a trustee, Frank learned about an old 5-by-12-foot board that boasted the names of the township’s military veterans.

“It was in a barn on Remsen Road, I believe,” his wife said. “Someone didn’t want it. Frank just thought it should be on display somewhere. He moved it out, cleaned it up. It now hangs in the township hall.”

Click here to view more photos of Frank Ehrman: http://bit.ly/mTBKPm

A founder and longtime president of the York Historical Society, Frank was instrumental in tearing down the one-room School House No. 10 and the old Pelton Barn and having them relocated and rebuilt on the historical society’s campus at Mallett Creek.

And then there’s the B&O caboose on display in his side yard.

“He loved trains,” his wife said. “It’s beautiful. He’s got a lot of his railroad stuff in it. The grandchildren slept in it overnight.”

In addition to his wife, Frank is survived by their three children — David, Christine Barnes and Linda Beardsley — as well as five grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Frank belonged to the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad Historical Society. He also served on the Medina County Railroad Safety Task Force, which promotes rail safety and awareness in the county and recommends the installation of gates and lights at various railroad crossings.

He was a past president of the Medina County Extension Committee, Medina County Dairy Testing Unit and York School Alumni organization.

Frank, a former board member of the Medina County Soil Conservation District, was named Northeast Ohio Conservation Farmer of Year in 1988.

In 1977, he received Ohio’s Wildlife Award in recognition of his devotion to wildlife preservation and his practice of planting flowers with seeds that birds can eat.

Frank also made attending the annual Medina County Fair part of his tradition.

“He’d spend a whole week at the fair and his exhibit with Holstein cattle,” Hawley said. “Even this last year (when he was ill), Frank would sit at the auction with me the whole day and maybe buy something.”