John Pickering, 1929 -- 2003

OBITUARY from The Morning Journal, 12-11-03

``John L. Pickering, 74, was teacher, farmer

AVON -- John L. Pickering, 74, described by his family as ''a teacher by trade but a farmer at heart,'' died Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2003, at the Cleveland Clinic, following a brief illness.

He was born July 11, 1929, in Lakewood, and was a lifelong resident of Avon.

He graduated from Avon High School and Ohio State University.

Pickering served on Avon City Council and the civil service and parks and recreation commissions.

He taught biology, health and physical education for nine years at Clearview High School and for 22 years at Avon High School before retiring. He was also self-employed as a farmer, the fourth generation of his family to farm its property on Pickering Hill in Avon.

He was a lifelong member of Avon United Methodist Church, where he sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and performed administrative duties. He was a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and enjoyed sports, especially fast-pitch softball, and had coached his sons' summer baseball league teams.

Survivors include his wife, Karel (nee Smith); sons Jay Pickering of Grafton and Mark Pickering of Carlisle Township; daughter, Karen Holowecky of Medina; sister, Anne Williams of North Ridgeville; and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, LaVern and Catherine (nee Gibson) Pickering.

Friends may call Friday, 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m., at Busch-Burmeister Family Chapel, 32000 Detroit Road, Avon. Services will be Saturday at 11 a.m. in Avon United Methodist Church, 37711 Detroit Road, with the Rev. John R. Butchko officiating. Burial will follow in Resthaven Memory Gardens, Avon.

Memorial contributions may be made to Avon United Methodist Church, 37711 Detroit Road, Avon 44011, or a charity of the donor's choice.''

OBITUARY from The Plain Dealer, 12-13-03, By Richard M. Peery, Plain Dealer Reporter

``John Pickering, teacher and farmer

AVON - John L. Pickering, 74, a retired Avon High School teacher and fourth-generation farmer, died Tuesday [12-9-03] at Cleveland Clinic Hospital.

He was appointed to the Avon City Council in 1967 and also served on the Civil Service and Parks and Recreation commissions.

Family members said, "He was a teacher by trade but a farmer at heart."

As a boy he picked corn, planted peas and sold strawberries and vegetables at a market stand on Detroit Road.

"I wasn't interested in farming at first, but it was something you had to do, of course," he said in an interview 13 years ago.

Wanting to escape from labor on the land, he attended Ohio State University after he graduated from Avon High School. He taught biology, health and physical education at Clearview High School in Lorain for nine years, then joined the faculty at Avon High.

As soon as he left college, though, he was drawn back to farming. He combined teaching and working on Pickering Hill for 30 years until he retired from the classroom in 1992. He rented nearby land so he could grow a greater variety of vegetables. Sales increased as more people moved into the area, but encroaching housing developments reduced the available acreage and forced Pickering to lease farming property in other parts of the county.

"It's interesting. You know all the idiosyncrasies of the land, and you get to a point where you kind of cherish it because you've been here so long," he said.

Pickering was a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. He coached his sons' summer league baseball teams. He was a lifelong member of Avon United Methodist Church, where he sang tenor in the choir, handled various administrative duties and taught Sunday school ...''

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: dpeery@plaind.com

SHORT TAKES from The Press, 12-17-03, By Julie Short

``News is slowly traveling through town regarding the passing of John Pickering. Many may know the name from the Pickering Hill Farm on Detroit Road in Avon, but few know the man behind the landmark.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pickering and his family while on a story assignment. I've written numerous stories where I have needed their insight and background. The Pickering Hill Farm was also the destination for many seasonal photos that have dotted this newspaper.

Mr. Pickering was a very gracious man who would give you the shirt off his back and ask nothing in return. He touched many lives and was a loyal public servant to the city of Avon.

He was a retired Avon High School teacher and fourth-generation farmer. Mr. Pickering was appointed to Avon City Council in 1967 and also served on the civil service and parks and recreation commission. He graduated from Avon High School and attended Ohio State University.

When he graduated from college, he was drawn back to farming. As a boy, he picked vegetables and sold produce at a market stand on Detroit Road. He combined teaching and working on the farm until he retired from the classroom in 1992.

He was a lifelong member of Avon United Methodist Church where he sang tenor in the choir, handled various administrative duties and taught Sunday school. Mr. Pickering also coached his sons' summer league baseball teams.

The Pickering Hill Farm is one of the last working farms in the city of Avon. It is truly a treasure in the city. Sadly, housing developments and schools are taking much of the farmland up. It is my hope that there will always be a piece of the Pickering Hill Farm on Detroit Road.

We often speak about "heritage" in Avon. Heck, we even have schools named after the concept. Mr. Pickering stood for that heritage. He will be missed. My sincere sympathy to the Pickering family. Our thoughts are with you.

Memorial donations may be made to Avon United Methodist Church or any charity. I'd like to make a suggestion, in honor of Mr. Pickering. The school district should develop a Memorial Scholarship in his name ...''

LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Morning Journal, 12-14-03, By Jim Uszynski

``Each day I read the obituaries to see if my name is in there, but so far it hasn't been. Often, far too often now, I read about someone I knew, or cared about, sometime in my life. That happened this past week when I read about Mr. John L. Pickering passing away.

If you are looking for someone who embodied everything good in a teacher, he was it. He was my biology teacher in high school at Clearview, and I remembered what a good man he was. I remember that square jaw of his and how he looked like he had been chiseled out of granite.

I remember his sense of humor and how he never took himself too seriously. I was always struck by how he seemed to know who he was, and it was OK with him to be himself.

He was never trying to be someone else. He was real and genuine. He seemed to love what he was doing even though his first love was farming. He was a warm man, a good teacher, a good farmer, a great example of character and integrity and, I suspect, a good father and husband as well.

He affected me in a way I can't quite put into words, but I will never forget that he touched my very soul in a way I could never repay.

Mr. Pickering was a good man. I am sure he would let me call him by his first name but I can't bring myself to do that. Thank you Mr. Pickering for coming to Clearview and touching my life and so many others who never told you thanks.''

Jim Uszynski, Lagrange

The writer is a 1964 graduate of Clearview High School and a special education teacher at Southview High School in Lorain.

Avon to 1974

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