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Tony J. Peterle, 86, of Delaware, former chairman of The Ohio State University Zoology Department and area sculptor passed away unexpectedly Tuesday evening (Nov. 15, 2011) in the Emergency Room of Grady Memorial Hospital.

Born in Cleveland on July 7, 1925, he was the youngest child of the late Anton and Anna (Kothic) Peterle. Answering the call of duty in 1943, he valiantly served in the U.S. Army during World War II, a member of the 10th Mountain Division, serving in Italy and Germany. Wounded and captured in 1944, he was liberated by Patton’s Army in 1945 and was awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, Tony pursued his education. With an interest in science, he went to college on the GI Bill in Utah and then on to the University of Michigan for his graduate studies.

In 1954, Tony was offered a chance to travel to Scotland on a Fulbright Scholarship and would return to Michigan with the Game Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A job at The Ohio State University with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior brought him to Central Ohio. While at OSU, Tony was offered a job as professor. He taught wildlife toxicology to graduate students, and went on to become chairman of the university’s zoology department for 12 years. He also authored a book, Wildlife Toxicology, about the affects of toxic substances on ecological systems. His research on pesticides and testimony before the U.S. Congress helped in the efforts to ban the use of DDT in this country. His most cherished honor during his career was receiving the Aldo Leopold Memorial Medal, given to him by the Wildlife Society in 1990 for distinguished service to wildlife conservation. He retired from OSU in 1989.

While in the second grade, he met Thelma J. Coleman whom he courted for the rest of his life; they were married in 1949. Together they would raise a family and travel the world, sharing a life of love and learning, true to the words of “How Do I Love Thee.” For more than 50 years, they made their home on the peaceful banks of the Scioto River. Thelma passed away on Nov. 18, 2007 and after sharing 58 wonderful years, his life was forever changed.

Steadfast and true, he was a man of many interests. Knowledgeable in numerous areas, he possessed a warmth and charm that one could not help but gravitate to. After retirement from the university, metal sculpting became a favorite pastime. His works were featured at area arts festivals and events. He also enjoyed cooking and began making homemade wine in 1972. He freely shared his crafts and bottles of wine.

He was a longtime member of William Street United Methodist Church, the William Street Foundation, the Grady Hospital Guild and the International Congress of Game Biologists. He served on the board of the Audubon Society, and was president of The Wildlife Society, where he was also twice the editor of their Journal of Wildlife Management.

Those whom he treasured include his beloved children: daughter, Ann Peterle and her husband Jim Brooks of Atlanta; son, Scott Peterle of Miami, Fla.; grandchildren, Meg, Ella and Austin; and nieces, nephews, former students and a host of friends.

In addition to his wife Thelma, he was also preceded in death by grandson, Dylan in 1998; and sisters, Anne Peterle, Albina Jeisel, Julia Zabenko and Josephine Kullik.

Tony was always inspired by the words of Aldo Leopold, and could repeat his favorite passage from memory:

“By this international commerce of geese, the waste corn of Illinois is carried through the clouds of the Arctic tundras, there to combine with the waste sunlight of a nightless June to grow goslings for all the lands between. And in this annual barter of food for light, and winter warmth for summer solitude, the whole continent receives as net profit a wild poem dropped from the murky skies upon the muds of March.” ~Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac

Services celebrating the life of Tony Peterle will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St., Delaware, with the Revs. Grayson Atha, Peter Snook and Julia Carmean officiating. His family will greet friends at a meal in the church’s Fellowship Hall following the service. Arrangements have been entrusted to the DeVore-Snyder Funeral Home in Delaware.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to: Audubon Ohio, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215; The Delaware Country District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015; or The Wildlife Society, 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-2144.

Condolences may be expressed at snyderfuneralhomes.com.

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