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Published: Monday, 12/18/2006

Contractor, aviator helped run airports

TIFFIN - Virgil E. Kreim, by trade a plumbing and heating contractor who as a hobby rebuilt crashed airplanes and flew them, and later helped manage area airports, died Thursday in Mercy Hospital here of congestive heart failure. He was 81.

Mr. Kreim developed an interest in airplanes as a boy, when he bought airplane parts and painted them for fun, and later began trying to piece the materials together, his daughter, Sue Kreim, said.

He somehow managed to find the money to buy an airplane when he was 18 years old. Mr. Kreim would later become a licensed aircraft inspector and maintenance technician.

He served in the Army during World War II, and upon his return went into the plumbing and heating business.

From 1950 until his retirement in 1980, he owned and operated Kreim Plumbing & Heating out of a garage attached to his Tiffin home, his daughter said.

During that time, he began fixing damaged or crashed aircraft that he bought from owners across the country. Once Mr. Kreim fixed the Cessna-sized airplanes, he took to the skies.

"He just liked to be able to get something up and running and then fly it," his daughter said.

Mr. Kreim spent several years helping manage Tiffin Aire Service on State Rt. 53, and Fostoria Metro Airport from 1995 until 2000, his daughter said.

Surviving are his daughters, Beverly Mancuso and Sue Kreim; sisters, Catherine Kempf, Esther Kreim, and Delores Tackett; brothers, John and Jerry Kreim; four granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today at the Hoffman-Gottfried-Mack Funeral Home, Tiffin.

The family suggests tributes to Community Hospice Care.

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