Former state lawmaker, Greene County commissioner dies

Former local state lawmaker and Greene County Commissioner Joseph Haines, who peers described as a down-to-earth Republican and an advocate for farmers, died on Monday.

Mr. Haines, who was 91, served in the Ohio House of Representatives for nearly 20 years.

Haines, a 1941 Xenia graduate, held many positions during his lifetime. He was deputy director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture from 1999 to 2003 and served as a Greene County commissioner from 1968 to 1976. He also served on many boards and committees, including the Ohio Republican Central Committee, Greene County Republican Central Committee and Agriculture Committee for American Legislative Exchange Council.

“My family worked with Mr. Haines during my father’s term on the Greene County Farm Bureau. He was a great advocate for local farms and we were happy to have worked with him,” said Gery Deer of Jamestown.

Funeral services for Haines of Xenia are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday at Christ Church, 3370 Upper Bellbrook Road in Bellbrook, according to Haines’ obituary that ran in this newspaper. Visitation will be from 12 to 2:30 p.m. at the church.

Former U.S. Congressman Steve Austria said Haines was a longtime friend of his father, the late Dr. Clement Austria.He got to know Haines while he was in high school when he worked on Haines’ Greene County Commission race during the mid-1970s.

“Rep. Haines, in my opinion, was a very honorable man who represented Greene County for many years. He along with his wife Joy, worked very hard. They were a great team. They worked on issues that were very close to his heart, like agriculture,” Austria said.

Austria also said Mr. Haines, along with two other Greene County commissioners, were very involved with the completion of U.S. 35.

“Joe Haines was in public office for the right reason and we’re forever grateful for his dedication and commitment to service to our area,” Austria said. “I think his life and accomplishments should be remembered and celebrated.”

Keith Stimpert, senior vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said he got to know Mr. Haines while Haines was a legislator.

“Joe was there to be that advisor and give you perspective on history as well. He as a good counselor,” Stimpert said. “Joe was very supportive of the county farm bureaus and state farm bureaus. He would regularly attend our events. He was very engaged in agriculture. Always had agriculture’s best interest at heart and the best interest of farmers at heart.”

Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft described Mr. Haines as being a conscientious, hardworking and sensible state legislator.

“He was a legislator to whom his colleagues respected and all liked very much,” Taft said. “He was just down-to-earth, solid, hardworking representative for the people he served.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he was in high school when he met Mr. Haines. He later worked with Mr. Haines professionally when he was the Greene County prosecutor and Haines was a county commissioner.

“The remarkable thing about Joe was just how hard he always worked. Frankly, Joe and his wife Joy were just a great team. They were everywhere,” DeWine said.

DeWine went on to say that Mr. Haines was someone who understood his community and his district.

“Joe really understood the area he represented because he worked so hard at it,” DeWine said. “When you use the term public servant, that’s really what Joe Haines was. He never forgot where he was from.”

Mr. Haines is survived by Joy, his wife of 63 years. Other survivors include his four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.