Life-long Coshocton County farmer remembered

| April 4, 2018

Phyllis Debnar recently received the sign marking the 200th anniversary of her family’s farm. Josie Sellers | Beacon

MILLCREEK TOWNSHIP – Raymond Pew was one of several life-long farmers that Coshocton County lost in the last year or so, but land that has been in his family for 200 years is still being farmed and sheep are still being raised in his barn.

Raymond’s great-great-grandfather received the family’s original 118 acres for fighting in the War of 1812. Raymond then took over the family farm after returning home from serving in World War II with the U.S. Army.

“Dad moved into our family farm house when he was 16-years-old and I got to grow up there too and lived there until I got married,” said Phyllis Debnar, Raymond’s daughter.

She has many fond memories of spending time with her dad on the farm and watching him do what he loved.

“We always had sheep,” Debnar said. “We also had pigs and cattle, but I took sheep for 4-H for 10 years. It was nothing for us to wake up and find baby lambs or pigs on the register that were brought in for us to nurse back to health. I also remember that mom helped too and could drive all the equipment and helped with any task she could. When my brother went to school it was just me at home so I got to go everywhere with Dad to the Farmers Exchange and the repair shops.”

When she and her husband retired and offered to help Raymond out on the farm he made sure there would be plenty of work for everyone.

“He went and rented another 80 acres,” Debnar said. “Those years were so much fun. We were like his hired men.”

Raymond passed away on Oct. 3, 2017.

“Up until the last two years (of his life) he was at the barn every day,” Debnar said. “He’d be lambing in February and March, which are cold months in the barn. When he was 93 he bought a new (hay) baler that we have up there now (at our house).”

Raymond also taught Debnar some life lessons.

“You do things right the first time or you do them again,” she said. “You also make sure to shut gates, turn the water and lights off and know how to tie a square knot. He was big too on being safe on the farm. Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations there is.”

Over the years, Raymond was involved in numerous farming organizations and he and his wife Margaret Lou even opened their home to agricultural visitors from other continents.

“When I was in 4-H I did a youth exchange program and had gone to Kenya,” Debnar said. “I stayed with different families there. One of them wanted to come to the U.S. and learn how to raise hogs. Mom and Dad got a call one day and he was here and ended up staying for six weeks. At the same time someone had come here from Australia to study hogs and was connected with dad. That whole summer was really neat.”

Raymond was known for being a good steward of the land.

“He got his soil tested, rotated crops, had fields tiled and had straight corn rows and clean fence lines,” Debnar said. “If he would have had 20 more years he probably would have ended up getting into all the computers and technology used for farming now. I think he liked the challenge of farming and that it was never the same. He grew up farming with horses and didn’t get his first tractor until 1938. He saw a lot of changes in farming.”

Debnar and her husband have some lambs that are connected to her dad. Jim Lawrence is lambing in his barn and Kyle Croft is farming the fields.

Raymond and another life-long farmer Warren Lapp died three days apart and even their services showed how dedicated they were to farming.

“It rained during calling hours for both of them,” Debnar said. “They wouldn’t have wanted anyone to quit farming to have to come to their calling hours.”

Read more about farming in our community in Down on the Farm!


Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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