Respected public servant, mentor, and volunteer Fred Alspach died Wednesday following a North Main Street scooter crash.
“Fred was the most valuable asset a community could have,” said former mayor Barb O’Keefe, who worked with him for decades. “He wanted to help with everything and always did a good job with anything he touched. I’ve known the family for a long time and they’re all beautiful people. This is a true tragedy.”
Alspach, 70, of Wellington, was heading south on Main Street on his 2000 Honda Helix. At approximately 7:10 a.m., 51-year-old Rodney Haswell of Wellington, driving a 2010 Mercury Milan, failed to yield near the Kelly Street intersection and the two collided, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Alspach suffered serious head injuries and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he later died, according to troopers.
Haswell wasn’t injured, but Alspach wasn’t wearing a helmet.
No charges have been filed. An investigation into the crash in underway and troopers say they don’t think alcohol or drugs played any role in the crash.
Alspach was a prominent member of the Wellington community, serving 15 years on village council and one term on the board of education. He was a current member of the Lorain County Metro Parks board, chairman of Wellington village park planning committee, and assisted with the election of directors for the Lorain County Fair.
“He was a role model, a teacher, and a friend,” said Wellington mayor Hans Schneider. “He was on council when I first got on there and taught me a lot about how to handle situations. He showed me when to speak out and when to listen. I’ll always be thankful for that.”
In retirement, he continued to answer the call as a public servant, Schneider said. “When I reached out to him this year about joining the park planning committee, he didn’t hesitate for one second. This is a tremendous loss for his family and this village.”
Alspach also spent time as a Wellington firefighter in 1991 and later held a seat on the fire board for seven years.
“You don’t see many board members who were also firefighters,” said assistant fire chief Bill Brown. “He was just a knowledgeable, smart, helpful person. He was only a firefighter for a short time but he went through that training and applied it to decisions he made. We’ll all miss him.”
For 36 years, Alspach worked for the Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative. The first six years of that tenure were spent as a journeyman line worker before he was severely burned in a transformer accident in 1979.
After recovering, he became LMRE’s director of member services, safety director, as well as community and economic development director. He was also the first executive director of the Lorain County Rural Wastewater district before retiring in 2009.
Village planning and zoning coordinator Marla Lent had just spoken with Alspach the day before his death because he often drove the Wellington senior bus.
“Everybody will tell you the same thing about Mr. Alspach,” she said. “He was just a generous and caring person who was always willing to get involved. I’m just kind of in shock still about this.”
“He always asked why there aren’t more people willing to volunteer,” she added. “He said people would ask him why he volunteered so much. He said he did it because he hoped someone would be there for him when he needed help.”
Alspach leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Susie, as well as three daughters.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.