About Daniel LaMar Christy, Jr.
D. LaMar Christy, Jr. was a third-generation Fremont native, community-minded business leader and retired manufacturer.
In a 1975 newspaper article recording the annual dinner meeting of the Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce that bestowed the “Citizen of the Year Award” on Mr. Christy, the Fremont News-Messenger credited 19 community organizations Mr. Christy was affiliated with. Among them were the Sandusky County Regional Planning Commission, the Manufacturers Council, and the Terra Technical College and Vanguard Vocational High School Advisory Committees. The article stated that Mr. Christy was a member of a family long associated with playing an “important part in the development of the community.” The account went on to say that Mr. Christy was “cited as an individual who has given much to the community beyond the contributions he has made through his profession.”
Mr. Christy’s commitment to community activism can be traced to his grandfather, Russ J. (“R.J.”) Christy, founder in 1891 of the Christy Knife Co. in Fremont, Ohio, which manufactured his inventions: the Christy serrated-edged kitchen knife and the original safety razor. During WWI surgical blades were added to a growing list of Christy products. R. J. Christy served on the Fremont City Council and was one of the original trustees of today’s Hayes Memorial Hospital. In 1909 he purchased the beginnings of what would become the Christy Farm. He died in Florida in 1947 at age 84.
Mr. Christy’s father, D. LaMar Christy, Sr., who succeeded R.J. Christy as President of what later became the Christy Co., was an active member of Rotary and many other fraternal and civic organizations in Fremont and Ohio, and served on the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He developed an outstanding dairy herd of prize-winning Jersey cattle at the Christy Farm and was deeply interested in local agriculture and conservation as well as in community affairs. He died in Hayes Memorial Hospital in 1955 at age 63.
D. LaMar Christy, Jr.’s interests were varied and many. Like his father, uncle and brother, he served as president of the Fremont Rotary Club. He went on to become Rotary International District 660 Governor in 1978-1979, a position his uncle Arthur Christy held in the 1920s. Mr. Christy traveled the world serving in that capacity and held continuous membership in Rotary International for over 65 years. He was a Paul Harris Fellow.
In addition to the dozens of community organizations that Mr. Christy belonged to and served, he was a life-long member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fremont. He was baptized and confirmed there, and served as an acolyte and a communicant. Over the years he served on various building fund committees for the church, and was ultimately appointed Sr. Warden of the Vestry and served as a St. Paul’s Parish Foundation Trustee.
Mr. Christy helped manage the 500 acre Christy Farm for more than thirty years, and was recognized for his commitment to modern farming and conservation practices by the State of Ohio, when he was presented with the state’s first Wildlife Conservation Award in 1965. In 1998 Mr. Christy established the Christy Farm Nature Preserve, which was comprised of some 150 acres of the original family farm he had purchased in the early 1990s. He dedicated the Preserve to the memory of his parents and grandparents, and to wildlife research, conservation and education programs for the public. He was an Eagle Scout, and maintained a life-long interest in scouting. The Boy Scout Cabin, built by his father in 1936, is now part of the Christy Farm Nature Preserve and remains in use by the community today. He also developed the Christy Farm Estates.
Daniel LaMar Christy, Jr., was born December 13, 1917 to D. LaMar Christy Sr., and Elise Bowman Christy on the second floor of the Sherman Apartments on Birch Street in Fremont. In addition to owning and operating the Christy Co., his father served as President of the former Colonial Savings Bank, the same position Mr. Christy’s grandfather Russ J. Christy held until his retirement in 1920. Mr. Christy’s mother, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, was a talented gardener and horticulturist, and served as a national officer of the Garden Clubs of America and in other local volunteer organizations. She died at Bethesda Care Center in Fremont in 1985 at the age of 94.
Mr. Christy attended Hayes Elementary and Fremont Ross Junior and Senior High Schools. He quarterbacked the High School football team and played base drum during half-time, participating in many other school activities as well. An active member of the Class of 1935, he regularly attended reunions and took part in other class and school activities, among them Ross High School’s Sports Hall of Fame.
After attending one year at the Kiskiminetas Springs College Preparatory Academy in Salsburg, Pennsylvania, Mr. Christy entered Amherst College in Massachusetts, graduating with a liberal arts degree, class of 1940. It was at Amherst that Mr. Christy, while involving himself in numerous athletic and extra-curricular pursuits, developed his life-long love of singing. As a leading member and President of the famed Amherst Glee Club, he performed in numerous concert venues, traveling throughout the northeast, ultimately earning membership in Amherst’s coveted “Double Quartet,” an elite singing ensemble. His widely acclaimed skills in competitive diving led him to win intercollegiate and regional championship competitions all over New England. Additionally at Amherst, Mr. Christy was a member of Beta Theta Phi Fraternity.
After graduation from Amherst, Mr. Christy attended the Harvard School of Business, and soon married a Smith College graduate, Joan Walmsley, in June of 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio. The newlyweds returned to Fremont and Mr. Christy went to work in his father’s business, The Christy Company, as vice president and sales manager.
With the start of WWII, Mr. Christy enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned as an Ordinance Instructor, teaching in Cleveland. His application to the Army Officer Candidate School in Aberdeen, Maryland was approved in 1943, and he graduated from there as a Second Lieutenant. His first orders called him overseas to the Pacific Theater, where he served in the latter stages of the Battle for Okinawa. Mr. Christy received the Army’s Honorable Discharge in 1946 and returned to civilian life in Fremont, resuming his duties at the Christy Co. In 1956, Mr. Christy revived his military associations as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, obtaining the rank of Captain.
In 1950, due to health concerns over one of their infant daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Christy and their three children moved to Tucson, Arizona where later a fourth child was born. It was in Tucson where Mr. Christy, while being engaged with other business and civic enterprises there, founded the Christy Machine Company by securing patent rights allowing for the manufacture of uniquely designed and constructed bakery equipment. Upon the disillusion of his marriage in 1955, Mr. Christy returned to Fremont, bringing The Christy Machine Co. with him and renewing his extensive involvement with the Fremont-area community. Mr. Christy maintained memberships in the Bakery Equipment Manufacturing Association (BEMA), the American Society of Bakery Engineers, and other national trade organizations for over 50 years. He sold his business to Randy L. Fielding in 1982.
In September of 1968, Mr. Christy married his “high-school sweetheart” and Fremont native, Marian Hufford Zink, widowed by the death of her husband of 25 years, Jack D. Zink, another notable Fremont civic leader. Marian Christy, after 37 years of marriage to Mr. Christy preceded him in death in 2005 at age 87 in Fremont.
Mr. Christy’s hobbies and recreational interests were as wide and extensive as his civic and business endeavors. An accomplished horseman since childhood, Mr. Christy exhibited his horses and ponies at the Sandusky County Fair and local parades for many years, with the help of his children, nieces and nephews, and any neighborhood kids he could round up. As a young boy he learned to play polo at the Caranoor Hunt and Polo Club in Perrysburg, Ohio, and played competitively as an adult for more than 30 years. He belonged to clubs in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Tucson. He founded the Fremont Polo Club in the mid-1960s, hosting matches at Christy Farms outside of Fremont. For several years, Mr. Christy was involved with breeding, raising and showing Arabian horses. He continued horse-related activities with friends and family late into his life.
Mr. Christy was an avid outdoorsman and naturalist, participating in bird-watching, camping and hiking, especially on his family’s farm. He enjoyed hunting up-land game as a long time member of De Mars Point Hunt and Gun Club, as well as fishing, boating and other water sports in Canada, where his family built a cottage in the late 1920s and where Mr. Christy and his family vacationed most summers.
Mr. Christy continued his singing proclivities formed during college by organizing SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing Groups in America) performing groups in Fremont, Toledo, and Tucson. His Barber Shop Quartet participated in the first broadcast of WFRO Radio, live from the stage of the Paramount Theater in downtown Fremont. He was song-leader at Amherst College reunions, which he attended with great regularity.
Throughout the years Mr. Christy held memberships in the BPOE (Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks), the Fremont Country Club and Rockwell Springs Trout Club, the Sandusky County Historical Society, and the YMCA, as well as in many other clubs and fraternal organizations.
(Content adapted from Mr. Christy’s obituary.)
On December 30, 1997, D. LaMar Christy, Jr. donated the 150 acres of land that comprise the Christy Farm Nature Preserve. In his Donor Document, Mr. Christy memorialized the history of Christy Family ownership:
In living memory of my grandparents Russ J. Christy (February 10, 1862 – February 2, 1947) and Amelia Elizabeth Myers Christy (August 9, 1864 – October 24, 1937), who on September 4, 1909 purchased a self-contained working farmstead on approximately 221 acres, which included a hand-milked dairy and creamery producing its own Christy brand Grade A Milk “Good for Mothers and Babies,” a piggery, domestic fowl of all sorts, vineyards, an apple orchard, crops tilled by draught horses, wood lots, and all the outbuildings, barns stables and housing arrangements typical of such a farm at the turn of the century, from the J. B. Cole family, to form the original boundaries of what has been known as Christy Farm for some 88 years.” And in living memory of my parents D. LaMar Christy, Sr. (November 10, 1891 – April 16, 1955) and Elise Bowman Christy-Ingold (July 2, 1891 – December 4, 1985) who acquired Christy Farm in 1927 from his parents, and after moving the original farming operations ½ mile across the western fields to their present location, built a new home, which they named Patriciamarl, on the foundations of the original barn and moved there, from the old family home at 804 Hayes Avenue, Fremont, Ohio, over the winter of 1929-1930, expanding the Northeast boundaries of the farm property on October 1, 1929 to include the former J. C. Barnes Family Farm, of 83 ½ acres, which had been purchased by his brother, Clyde K. Christy Sr. on December 17, 1923, who died in 1924, and was then owned by his widow, Willah Wendler Christy, and young son, Clyde K. Christy, Jr., and which became known in the family as the North Farm, a “truck farm” of vegetables, hogs, chickens, and eggs from which were sent fresh Christy “Vita-Ray” eggs to market, and also to the Christy children when they were away at college, and adding the adjacent Phillips and Overmeyer Farms to the Southeast in the 1930s, and D. LaMar Christy Jr. also added approximately 6 more acres purchased in 1978 from the estate of Mrs. John Gregory, thereby increasing the combined farms to almost 450 acres, raised their three children and pursued a wide variety of avocations there during their lifetimes, which included: gardening, floriculture and flower arranging, shrub and tree planting and landscaping, birding, other wildlife and ecology projects, boy scouting and the Christy scout cabin, conservation efforts, modern farming and animal husbandry techniques, equestrian and other sports, as well as family and business activities; Now I, their son and grandson D. LaMar Christy, Jr. (December 13, 1917 – [November 11, 2006]) do give that part of this place, which has been such a meaningful part of the lives of five generations of the Christy Family, and of earlier generations of farmers, citizens of Sandusky Township, Sandusky County and Fremont, Ohio and of those who came before to fish and hunt and collect natural foods along the Muskellunge Creek and follow its banks in their travels, which shall be known henceforth as The Christy Farm Nature Preserve.