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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2003

Ironton native ran Woodlawn cemetery

Roy W. Haney, Jr., who was born in the Ironton, Ohio, cemetery where his parents were grounds superintendents, and who retired as executive director of Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, died of kidney-related problems Monday in Toledo Hospital. He was 83.

Mr. Haney of Sylvania retired Jan. 1, 1986, from Woodlawn, where he was hired in 1973. A master gardener, he was known for his expertise in plant and eco-systems, said his daughter, Karen Haney-Thomas.

“He felt that by making the [cemetery] grounds as beautiful as possible for the families who would be visiting the graves, he was not only sharing in their sorrows, but sharing in their joy,” his daughter said.

He made a study of the use of landscaping. Visitors might first focus on the grass at the gravesite, said his son Tim, who succeeded him as head of Woodlawn.

Then they might look up, and they ought to find something interesting there - flowers, and above that, flowering shrubs and trees.

As visitors are able to look around and up, their gaze should be met by “crowning massive trees so their grief can finally be lifted to the skies,” said his son, who is a former city of Toledo cemetery supervisor. “You want layers of beauty. He sometimes called them blankets of beauty.”

Mr. Haney was born at Woodland Cemetery in Ironton. He was a graduate of Ironton High School and attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.

He was a member of the Ohio National Guard and enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was navigator on a B-29.

During a mission over southern Japan, the aircraft took a direct hit from flak, his son-in-law Robert Thomas said. The co-pilot and bombardier were killed, and the pilot was badly wounded.

Mr. Haney was the only other member of the 11-member crew to have air training as a pilot. He helped administer first aid to the pilot, and he brought the plane back safely to base.

Mr. Haney's father had died before the war. Mr. Haney returned home to care for his mother, his sister, who had Down syndrome, and the cemetery they ran.

He remained there until 1957.

He later was grounds superintendent at Union Cemetery in Columbus; White Chapel, in Troy, Mich., and at Toledo Memorial Garden in Sylvania.

He was a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Toledo, and he was a former member of the Ottawa-Jermain Park advisory board.

Surviving are his wife, Ruth, whom he married Feb. 10, 1947; sons, Pat and Tim Haney; daughters, Cindy Gillis and Karen Haney-Thomas, and seven grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in the Walker Funeral Home, where the body will be after 3 p.m. tomorrow.



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