By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MOSCOW - Peggy Wildey watched as her husband, Carl, made his fourth pass with a riding mower along the steep incline bordering their 40-acre farm on Laurel Point-Isabel Road.
Carl Wildey had been reluctant to use the riding mower on the hill. He would have normally used a string trimmer. But the grass needed cutting and the sun would set soon. Easter was four days away and there was a lot to be done.
Carl and Peggy Wildey.
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Carl stopped the mower momentarily to let Peggy pick up a fallen tree limb. One more pass and the hill would be done. Then the mower started to slide. Backward, off the embankment, toward nearby trees.
The momentum flipped the heavy piece of equipment with Carl still on top. All Peggy could do was watch, horrified.
Carl, a farmer for much of his 65 years, hit a cedar tree, bounced off and landed on the ground. The mower came to rest on top of him.
"Get this off me," he told his wife. But the mower was too heavy.
A passerby dialed 911. Air Care was alerted. But there was little emergency workers could do.
Moments after being pinned to the ground, Carl Wildey, the patriarch of a Clermont County family known for its generosity and civic contributions, was dead.
His death last week has reverberated through this small, close-knit community in southern Clermont County, where the Wildey name has been known for generations.
Pauline Kareth of New Richmond first met Wildey in 1976 and is a member of his church. His death, she said, has left a void.
"He always knew the needs of those in the community," she said. "He was like Will Rogers - he never met a man he didn't like or vice versa. The whole community is stunned. Everyone is in mourning."
He was the eldest son of Thomas A. Wildey, a teacher at schools in Cincinnati and Clermont County who advocated the education of those with special needs. His name now graces a county-run school for the developmentally disabled.
Carl Wildey lived on the same land his great-grandfather called home. "Carl liked to do anything where he was planting and cultivating. He was more of a hands-on kind of guy. He was one of the best mechanics around and he'd help anybody that needed," said a younger brother, Tom Wildey III, 62.
He was a trustee at his church, and also a member of the local Farm Bureau Advisory Council. He gave jobs to young people on his farm, and taught them to respect the land.
A veteran of the Army, he worked for General Motors until his retirement in 1988. He continued to work on his farm, as well as taking care of the grounds and cemetery of Mount Zion-St. Paul United Church of Christ in New Richmond.
"His love was unconditional," said his son, Robert Wildey, 39, of New Richmond. "He would say there was nothing we could do that would stop him from loving us."
His daughter, Trisha Wildey Brush, 33, of Pierce Township agreed.
"He believed in you more than you did in yourself," she said of her father. "No one ever doubted how much he loved them."
Besides his wife, children and grandchildren, nine siblings survive: Marian Moyer, Thomas A. Wildey III, Amaryllis Howard, Helen Annelle Brate, Donald H. Wildey, Linday Kay Finkelstein, William Michael Wildey, Lois A. Ireton and Roger Barkley.
Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. today at the E.C. Nurre Funeral Home, 177 W. Main St., Amelia. Funeral service is 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Mount Zion-St. Paul United Church of Christ on Clermontville-Laurel Road in New Richmond.
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