5 recent notable deaths with Butler County ties

Butler County lost multiple notable community members over the last few weeks who made a significant impact on those around them. Here are their stories:

Joel Schmidt, who witnessed Iwo Jima flag raising in WWII and became Hamilton entrepreneur, dies at 94

Joel Schmidt witnessed the planting of the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima after a fierce battle with the Japanese as a Marine in World War II.

But it was after he returned home that he planted his own flag, starting a family, operating six McDonald’s restaurants in Butler County and becoming a leader of Hamilton’s civic society.

He was born May 15, 1926 in Noblesville, Ind., to Jacob J. and Caroline (Heylmann) Schmidt and grew up in Cleveland, where he met Marilyn, his wife of 70 years. After graduating from Indiana University and while working for Shell Oil Co., he moved to Hamilton in 1953.


Anita Scott Jones, a beloved champion of Middletown, dies at 58

Anita Scott Jones wasn’t born in Middletown, but she made the city a better place, those who knew her said.

Scott Jones, who championed the city of Middletown as a council member and vice mayor and was passionate about her Christian faith, died on Sunday. She was 58.

“This is a huge loss,” said the Rev. Lamar Ferrell, pastor at Berachah Church, where Scott Jones and her husband, Lyndon Jones, worshiped. “When she got transplanted here from Alabama, Middletown gained an incredible ambassador of hope.”


Longtime retired Middletown police officer dies of COVID-19 complications

Longtime Middletown police officer and Butler County Sheriff’s deputy John Reiring died March 12 of complications from COVID-19. He was 75.

The resident known for his love of family, bowling, cars, and policing was buried Wednesday with officers from throughout the region paying tribute.

Reiring was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War before becoming a Middletown police officer in 1962. He retired as a lieutenant in 2002, but didn’t stop working. He worked as an Oxford Twp. officer before working part time as a Butler County Sheriff’s Office deputy beginning in 2013 serving civil paper work.


Veteran Butler County firefighter dies after heart attack at 54

A 16-year veteran of the Hanover Twp. Fire Department, who recently died from a heart attack, will receive a fire truck escort through his hometown community this week to honor his life and service.

Lt. Scott Kist, 54 and a father of three sons, suffered a heart attack at his home on March 21 and died at Fort Hamilton Hospital Saturday, said Hanover Fire Chief Phillip Clark.

In a statement, Clark said his fellow firefighters were joined by Butler County Sheriff deputies and an engine company from Oxford Twp. in rushing to Kist’s Hanover Township home when he was stricken.


Well-known defense attorney, former Fairfield mayor dies at 72

Credit: City of Fairfield

Credit: City of Fairfield

Former Fairfield Mayor Don LeRoy did a lot in his short tenure on City Council, including earning the city national notoriety in 1983 when he pushed council to move a meeting to watch the series finale of M*A*S*H.

LeRoy only served three years on City Council and was better known as a local attorney in Butler County, practicing law since the 1970s. He died from complications of heart disease on March 30 at St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis. He was 72.

Longtime friend Mike Sage, a retired Butler County Common Pleas judge, said “it would be fair to call (LeRoy) a low-profile guy.”

LeRoy was also “wasn’t much on formalities,” which is likely a reason he requested Fairfield City Council in 1983 to move a regular business meeting for the series finale of M*A*S*H, an iconic American television show about an Army field hospital during the Korean War that ran 11 seasons.