Ole Mettler, the former president and chairman of F&M Bank who died this week, was a man of many talents.
Some years ago at the Grape Festival, the theme was Ferris wheels. A featured display was an actual miniature Ferris wheel, hand-crafted, and with amazing detail.
Many wondered what company or team of skilled artisans had built this amazing little exhibit. Turned out, it was made by Mr. Mettler, a long-time festival board member.
Along with being the top executive of Lodi’s premier bank, he operated the family grape vineyard near Lodi and enjoyed crafting items with his own hands.
In fact, out on the Mettler property was what some might call a scrap heap. Mr. Mettler called it a “resource pile.” Nearly every part of the wondrous Ferris wheel came from the resource pile.
Ole Mettler was nothing if not resourceful. He grew up in the Depression era, mindful of using, not wasting. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and helped lead F&M as either president or chairman for nearly 50 years.
Tall and always dressed in a neatly pressed dark suit, Mr. Mettler was the epitome of the community banker. He was personable yet direct — some might even say Reagan-esque.
Surely Mr. Mettler was of the same vintage as the former president, the Greatest Generation. A man of character, a family man, an exceptional executive who served his community tirelessly.
That fine Ferris wheel, after all, was just a small reflection of a man who created carefully and well.
In our story on Mr. Mettler’s death, we called him a Lodi icon. That’s perhaps an overused phrase these days.
In case of Mr. Mettler, though, it was entirely appropriate.