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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2007

Contractor known for valuing his employees

Richard H. Schoen, 84, the retired president of two local construction contractors that bore his family's name, died of prostate cancer yesterday in his Ottawa Hills home.

Mr. Schoen began working for Schoen Paving, founded by his grandfather, in 1947 after graduating from John Carroll University in Cleveland. He and brothers Jack and Jim eventually inherited the company and Richard Schoen became its president sometime during the 1970s, a son, Fritz, said.

Schoen Paving was a small, local contractor that usually employed 20 to 25 people during the construction season. It received contracts to repair or improve many Toledo streets.

"It was not a large company, but it was very efficient and very productive," Fritz Schoen said.

While he started out as office manager and bookkeeper, Mr. Schoen spent much of his career with Schoen Paving working on the operating side, supervising and scheduling employees.

"He taught by example," Fritz Schoen said. "He treated everybody with respect. He was always welcoming, always a joy to be around."

Mr. Schoen was close enough with his work force, Fritz Schoen said, that when Jack and Jim Schoen decided to retire and Schoen Paving was liquidated, he took his share of the proceeds and started a new company, Richard H. Schoen Co., that retained Schoen Paving's employees.

Richard H. Schoen Co. did local construction work for about four or five years until Mr. Schoen retired and ceased its operation in the mid- 1980s, his son said.

A Toledo native, Mr. Schoen graduated from Central Catholic High School and was attending John Carroll when World War II broke out.

He enlisted in the Army Specialist Training Corps, which assigned him to the medical corps on the basis of his having taken a year of college biology, said Bob Schoen, another son.

Mr. Schoen became a U.S. Army medic, and on Nov. 27, 1944, was wounded by shrapnel from mortar fire while rescuing wounded soldiers at Boulay, France, as Allied forces advanced eastward after capturing Metz.

After a lengthy recovery in England, he was assigned to intake processing of German prisoners until hostilities ceased. He was discharged in early January, 1946, with the rank of corporal.

Shortly after completing college, Mr. Schoen married Elaine Mayer. They had met before the war and began dating after his return. Their 40-year marriage ended in 1988 with Mrs. Schoen's death.

A deeply religious man, Mr. Schoen attended daily Mass at Gesu Church, where he was a longtime member. There, he met Jeanne Hylant, who was widowed at about the same time as Mrs. Schoen's death, and they married in 1990.

The couple traveled extensively, most notably to Australia and Europe, Fritz Schoen said.

Mr. Schoen volunteered for many years at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center and then St. Anne Mercy Hospital, providing wheelchair assistance to arriving and newly discharged patients.

Surviving are his wife, Jeanne Hylant Schoen; sons, Greg, Bill, Bob, Fritz, Tom, Dan, and Jeff; daughters, Mary Beth Schoen, Cory Bracken, Janet Adams, Ellen Breininger, Anne Eddingfield, Kate Kelly, and Julie Dunsmore; stepsons, Bob, Pat, Dan, Steve, Mike, and Richard Hylant; stepdaughters, Sandra and Jeannie Hylant; sisters, Pat Schoen Smith and Peggy Schoen Wheeler; 58 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; 20 step-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Coyle Funeral Home, South Reynolds Road, after 5 p.m. tomorrow, with a recitation of the Rosary at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Gesu Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Foundation for Life, Catholic Charities-Diocese of Toledo, or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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