Last updated: August 24. 2013 7:08PM -

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OTTAWA — She drove or walked past it countless times before, never really thinking about that statue of a firefighter near the Putnam County Courthouse.It wasn’t until Roselia “Rosie” Deters Verhoff began helping with restoration efforts for it that she learned — and shared — the story of that Ottawa landmark.“I was one of the people on that committee, and I got to research it,” she said. “What a wonderful story there is there. There were two firefighters here who were killed in a fatal fire years ago. They put up the memorial so they wouldn’t be forgotten.”Thanks in part to Verhoff’s efforts, generations to come won’t forget about much of Putnam County’s rich history. She wrote 17 books, booklets and articles on everything from “Ottawa’s Necktie Quilt: A World War II Artifact” to “Crawfis College/Blanchard High School: The Schools and Their Graduates 1906-2006.”Verhoff, a nominee for this year’s local Jefferson Awards for Public Service, even put together the most complete history of elected officials in the county, “Putnam County, Ohio Elected Officials: Voices of County Government 2007.”She also helped find a portrait of the man for which Putnam County was named, Army Gen. Israel Putnam, and wrote a brief history of his life to hang in the Putnam County Courthouse.“She is the best historian Putnam County ever had,” summarized Scott Meyers, who nominated Verhoff for the Jefferson Awards.Her willingness to dig deep for information separates her from many people interested in history, said Joe Balbaugh, president of the Putnam County Historical Society.“Once she decides what program or whatever she wants to do, she goes after it until she finds what she needs,” Balbaugh said. “She’s persistent in her search for the knowledge, trying to capture our history.”That also impressed Judge Randall Basinger, who worked with Verhoff to write a weekly column in the Putnam County Sentinel during Ohio’s bicentennial in 2003.“It is clear that Rosie’s efforts have made a remarkable change in what we have in terms of the photos and materials put out about the history of our county,” Basinger said. “Her activities have been very significant, in my view, to making local history available to our schools and residents.”She’s hardly focused on just history, though. Verhoff, who was Putnam County’s auditor from 1983 until she retired in 1991, still volunteers with Buckeye Girls State, which teaches high school girls about government. She donated more than 85 pints of blood to the American Red Cross.She served on a variety of professional and volunteer boards, including stints as director for the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce and Ottawa Kiwanis Club. She’s also active at her church, SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, in Ottawa, where she reads at Masses.“When you want something done, you should ask someone who’s busy, since you know it’ll get done,” Basinger said. “That’s true with Rosie. She’s involved in so many things, but when she embarks on a project, you can be sure she’ll carry it through to the end.”Still, history draws her back. She credited her father, John Franklin Deters, with instilling a love for history and government.“I think if we as a people don’t take any pride in the things that happened to our ancestors, those us now won’t achieve anything the coming generation will remember,” Verhoff said.

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