GREENVILLE — Former Miami County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tom Petkewitz has been working on authoring a book for five years and it’s nearing completion and almost ready for publication.
According to the cover its title is “From Outdoors Past: A Journey Through Time and Select Territory,” and additional information on the front reads: “A pictorial essay of fishing and hunting collectibles which mirror the region’s field sports heritage in Ohio and Indiana’s Mercer, Auglaize, Miami, Darke, Shelby, Preble, Montgomery and Randolph counties.
“This book is a photo essay mostly,” he said. “I traveled around to get photos relating to fishing and hunting sports heritage.”
The books is filled with around 130 pages.
“It’s not a big book, but it has a lot of content,” he said. “I have a lot of acknowledgements in the book. I had a lot of help, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some names.”
Each of the 23 chapters in the book are titled in all different aspects of field sports.
A lot of the pictures are local people in these counties,” Petkewitz said. “Readers may recognize some of these subjects.”
He dedicated the book to his wife, Martha, and granddaughter Alison Byram.
“To write the book, it took two years,” he said. “I was going through pictures and substituting pictures, arranging them in order. It took me awhile to tour all the counties and research the items. And there were publishing delays, too.”
He said his book focuses on the flavor of Darke and circling counties.
“It’s fully contiguous of Darke County,” he said.
Petkewitz is no stranger to writing.
He was columnist for an outdoor magazine and wrote lots of stories for the former publication, Darke County Profile, and the Country Anglin’ Outdoor Guide. He did special columns in sporting antiques magazines and wrote for two organizations, NFLCC on antique lures and reels and ORCA with articles published of local flavor around here but nationally distributed. He also penned articles in two local newspapers including The Daily Advocate. His topic was a tribute to the late Bruce Dawson, a local outdoors enthusiast.
“Bruce and I were kind of close,” he said.
Petkewitz said since his retirement in February 2000, he and his wife, the former Martha Morton, both got into antiques and collectibles.
“I do fish a lot and write about fishermen’s adventures,” he said. “I do a lot of sports shows in angling and antique shows in multiple states. I composed a portfolio of photos I’ve taken and put captions on them at these shows. “
The only disappointment he has in the book is that the pictures on the cover do not reflect women and their interest in the subject.
“More women open my pictures more than men do at these shows,” he said. “I wanted something showing ladies. We didn’t emphasize it for ladies, too.”
He does like the pictorial teasers on the back, however.
“Those are pictures of extremely valuable items,” he said.
He is a self-proclaimed competitive collector.
“One year, I won the best of antiques class for fishing items and the next year I won in the domestic arts hunting display at the Great Darke County Fair, he said.
Both the Petkewitzes are collectors.
He especially likes lures, including folk art.
“Re-purposing a lure is taboo, but I’ve done it over the years” he said.
“I used to be a dock manager at Neuman’s Dock,” he said. “I took a sabbatical there after Vietnam and took a bunch of food to Kelly’s Island halfway between Port Clinton and Sandusky.”
Petkewitz had been the law director for the City of Dayton, and had been the Dayton prosecutor.
“I concluded 30 years in the civil division in the Miami County prosecutor’s office and worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at the base’s legal office as assistant prosecutor.
“The best job was village attorney,” he said.
“He served in the U.S. Army from 1968-72.
“While in the military, I served on the staff as assistant JAG, called a counsel,” he said. “I was one of few military that served; most were civilians.”
Born on Ground Hog Day, Petkewitz said he is 71.
“I tell everybody I am always the front-page story on my birthday, Feb. 2,” he said. “I retired from Miami County on Feb. 1, 2000, and on Feb. 2, I turned 56. I’ve de-registered as an attorney and started doing something fun with my life. I have been actively collecting antiques for over 20 years.”
The Petkewitzes got married on St. Patrick’s Day 17 years ago.
“We had an interesting wedding at the old courthouse in Troy with Judge Kessler and Pastor Steve Short [of Beamsville Church] officiating,” he said.
The couple had met at a gathering in Dayton area. He is the father to three daughters and Martha, a widow, has a son. Together, there are eight grandchildren.
After their marriage, they decided to stay in the Greenville area.
Their love of antiquing started one day when they were in Tipp City.
“We had never been in an antique store before,” he said. “We had lunch then went through the stores. I was looking for something to put on a distressed knickknack shelf in my apartment. I found this antique fishing lure and we had so much fun that we went to Centerville, Indiana, the next week. That’s where it all started.”
Just as his wife helps in the antique, collectible shopping, she also helped him with the book.
“She also collects lures,” Petkewitz said. “We check each other’s lures in a good way. She also collects Longaberger baskets and memorabilia advertising Darke County Fair stuff.”
He himself used to help out at the former Bluebird Festivals in Darke County, and he helped the sheriff’s department with it annual Sport and Home Show for awhile.
“But, it’s now more of a home show,” he said.
He is hoping his book will be finished by Dec. 10. He is planning to have some book-signings; one at Fisherman’s Quarters on Keowee Street in downtown Dayton one at Sweet Annie’s Cabin on South Broadway in downtown Greenville; and at Jay and Mary’s Bookstore in Troy; as well as Niekamp’s facility south of Celina on U.S. 127.
Linda Moody may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.