Saturday, November 8, 2003

Robert Deardorff ran insurance firm

Businessman founded Norwood agency

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mr. Deardorff

KENWOOD - Robert M. Deardorff's legacy are his 11 children, 42 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

"From Sue to Molly, from John to Jillian, my dad left a legacy of life - a legacy of love, togetherness and family," said his son, Paul Deardorff of Hyde Park.

Mr. Deardorff, founder of Deardorff Insurance Agency in Norwood, died Friday at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash. The Kenwood resident was 88.

A product of the Great Depression, he learned to work long hours but also to appreciate life's smaller pleasures.

Mr. Deardorff worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. "As a teenager, he got on a train and rode to California," his son said. "This was not Amtrak. He was on a flatbed car with a group of other young fellows, exposed to the elements, riding for thousands of miles to California where he cut down trees and built roads.

"I'm not sure that his early years working farms, cutting trees in California and helping the country recover from the Depression ever truly left him.

"My brothers, sisters and I would sometimes joke that he was the cheapest man we had ever seen. We all remember 25-cent Christmas trees so bare we all went to nearby woods to cut branches so that dad could wire them to our tree. He could do wonders with a coat hanger. And he could stretch a pound of hamburger from here to Louisville."

A high-school graduate, Mr. Deardorff was a tough guy - a Golden Gloves champion - but he was also smart. That combination translated into success for his insurance agency, which he opened in Norwood about 1940 and sold this year.

He took the rough edges off of life by indulging in his love for singing and dancing.

"I watched him dance with my mother while my brothers and sisters and I sang," his son said. "Tim played the piano and Rick the guitar. My brother Bob played bass. Some of us tried to harmonize.

In addition to Paul, survivors include: five daughters, Susan Ottof Louisville, Mary Schumacherof Montgomery, Ann Lescher of Atlanta, Teresa Dieselof Anderson Township and Molly Ziegler of Monfort Heights; five sons, Robert Jr. of Withamsville, William of Deer Park, James and Tim, both of Anderson Township and Richard of Sharonville.

Visitation is 9-11 a.m. Monday at Schmidt-Dhonau Funeral Home, 10980 Reading Roadin Sharonville. Mass of Christian burial is 11:30 a.m. Monday at St. Gertrude the Great Roman Catholic Church, 11144 Reading Road in Sharonville. Burial is at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Montgomery.

Memorials: St. Gertrude The Great Roman Catholic Church, 11144 Reading Road, Sharonville, OH 45241; or Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, 45242.


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