Friday, January 2, 2004

Roger Early Jr., antiques expert

Built business in Milford

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

TERRACE PARK - Former Milford city councilman, vice mayor and businessman Roger Randolph Early Jr. was also a well-known antiques dealer, appraiser, and auctioneer. He is also remembered as a benefactor to his community and a family man.

"He did many things to help people that a lot of people wouldn't know anything about," said Virginia C. Critchell, a longtime family friend and retired Milford businesswoman. "If he heard of someone in need, he'd quietly see that help was given. No one else knew about it."

One of his grandchildren, Sarah Early of Hyde Park, said Mr. Early had many friends and business acquaintances in the area.

"He had many friends across the United States and was a wonderful grandfather," she said.

Mr. Early died Monday after a short illness at his home. The Terrace Park resident was 87.

Born in 1916, he and his family moved from Lexington, Ky. to a farm in Clermont County on Buckwheat Road in 1920. The family operated a dairy farm for over 20 years.

He graduated from Milford High School in 1934 and earned his bachelor's degree in business from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1938.

Mr. Early served as a captain in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He married Mary Louise Sanford of Milford in 1942.

In 1951, he turned his father's hobby of antiquing into a business on Main Street in Milford. He and his family built up one of the largest and most well-known auction houses in the country, specializing in Victorian art glass. In 1958, it became a full-time business and gained national prominence in the antique and auction fields.

Mr. Early never found time to retire and held national auctions as late as this past November, despite recovering from heart surgery last April.

"He was a modern day horse trader who evolved into one of the finest art dealers in the country," said a family friend, Dale Roe of Indian Hill.

Mr. Early served as vice mayor and a city councilman for Milford for eight years in the early 1950s. He was the first president of the Old Milford Area Inc. (now Greater Milford Historical Society) from 1967-73 and was responsible for establishing the organization's first museum, Milford Area Museum, in 1972. He served on the village charter commission in 1969, was a longtime member of the Milford Chamber of Commerce and received the chamber's Community Involvement Award.

He was also a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church in Milford and the Terrace Park Country Club.

His wife of 52 years died in 1995.

Survivors include a sister, Mary Elizabeth Hardesty of Belle Meade, N.J; a son, Steven of Terrace Park; a daughter, Ellen Johnson of Chapel Hill, N.C; and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. todayat Milford First United Methodist Church, 541 Main, Milford. Service will be 10 a.m. Saturday at the church.

Memorials: Milford First United Methodist Church, 541 Main, Milford, OH 45150-1172.


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