CHARLESTOWN _ James E. Witchey, Sr., 70, whose love of animals led to the creation of Rolling Valley Exotic Animal Farm, where he handled and trained exotic animals, died Tuesday, March 7, 2000 at his home following a period of failing health.
Born April 16, 1970 in Hametown, Ohio, he was the son of Walter and Susan (Kalbach) Witchey. He had lived in the area since 1960.
Mr. Witchey helped establish Jet Rubber Co. in 1955 and later went on to help establish Crest Rubber Co. in 1960 and Witchey Rubber in 1966.
His created the Rolling Valley Exotic Animal Farm in 1973. He helped magicians Harry Blackstone and Doug Henning do their illusions with his tigers and also helped make many commercials, including Lincoln-Mercury, with his cougars. He was active in preserving endangered and neglected animals, finding homes for many of them.
He was a member of Unity Masonic Lodge No. 12 in Ravenna, a 32nd Degree Mason of the Scottish Rite Valley of Akron and a member of Tadmor Shrine.
Survivors include his wife, Ada June (Headley), to whom he was married 52 years; son, James Jr. of Ravenna; daughters Francie June and Barbara, both of Ravenna; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and sister, Mary Isham of Akron.
Private services for the family were held Thursday at Charlestown Cemetery. Arrangements were made by Wood-Kortright Funeral Home, Ravenna Chapel.