TIFFIN - Charles W. Letterhos, a retired teacher who worked as a custodian and restored old church statues in retirement, died Friday in St. Luke's Hospital, Maumee. He was 65.
Mr. Letterhos, who was a teacher at parochial and public elementary schools for more than 35 years, died from congestive heart failure, his wife, Donna, said.
A native of Tiffin, he attended Calvert High School for two years and transferred to the former St. Meinrad High School in southern Indiana. He enrolled in the preparatory seminary with the intentions of becoming a priest, Mrs. Letterhos said.
She said the late Msgr. Richard Gabel, who was pastor at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, was a mentor to her husband, who was an acolyte at the church.
“He was thinking about becoming a priest. Monsignor Gabel was a great inspiration to my husband as a youngster. They were very good friends,” she said.
After graduating from St. Meinrad in 1953, Mr. Letterhos studied five years with the monks at St. Bendedict's Abbey in Benet Lake, Wis. As a student, he was a valet for the abbot at the monastery.
Mrs. Letterhos said he left the monastery when his father became ill. He enrolled at Heidelberg College. While attending college he taught at St. Joseph's School. He graduated from Heidelberg in 1966 and continued his education at the University of Toledo, where he obtained a master's degree in educational administration in 1973.
Mr. Letterhos left St. Joseph's in 1968. He taught one year each at Port Clinton Junior High and Bettsville Elementary School. He was an elementary schools supervisor from 1970 to 1973 for Seneca County Schools.
Mr. Letterhos left the county education office to teach for Tiffin City Schools. He taught sixth grade at Noble and Krout elementary schools. A heart condition caused him to retire in 1986. He had suffered two heart attacks that year and doctors advised him to retire, his wife said.
But after nearly a year, he became bored and took a part-time job at Calvert High School, supervising the students who cleaned in the evenings. After several years he became maintenance director, a job he gave up in March when he suffered another heart attack.
Jack Altenburger, who was principal from 1983 to 1988, said Mr. Letterhos was meticulous about the school's appearance. “He was a great find for the school. He presented himself and offered his services. He was really dedicated to the school,” Mr. Altenburger said.
Mrs. Letterhos said her husband developed close relationships with students who worked after school and during the summer. “He had some really wonderful kids. Sometimes they would come to the house to visit him. After the kids went to college they would write or send a Christmas card,” she said.
Mr. Letterhos refurbished icons of saints, crucifixes, and nativity scenes for St. Joseph and other churches in town. Among the more notable projects was the restoration of a life-size wood statue of St. Joseph found in the mausoleum at the church cemetery in the 1980s.
Mrs. Letterhos said her husband repaired and painted the hand-carved statue, which was damaged in a church fire in 1934. The statue is now located in a stair landing at the grade school.
Surviving are his wife, Donna; sons, John and Joseph; daughter, Amy Bores, and two grandchildren.
Services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow in St. Joseph Church. Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today in the Hannay-Traunero Funeral Home, where the Rosary will be recited at 3:45 p.m.
The family requests tributes to St. Joseph Church, St. Joseph School Tuition Assistance Fund, Calvert Tuition Assistance Fund, Knights of Columbus Elevator Fund, St. Francis Home for the Aged, or a charity of the donor's choice.