SANDUSKY - Karl E. Ailing, 81, a speech and hearing therapist in Sandusky City Schools for nearly 25 years who owned a hearing-aid business for 22 years afterward, died Sunday in Firelands Regional Medical Center. He had cancer, his wife, Suzanne, said.
Mr. Ailing formerly owned the Sandusky Hearing Aid Center, retiring in 2003. He bought the business in 1981, a year after he retired from the school system.
He fitted his clients with hearing aids. His wife kept the books.
"It was different for him, [but] it was fun. We liked it a lot," his wife said. "He wasn't one to sit around and do nothing. He was used to getting up and going. He enjoyed his work."
Mr. Ailing happened upon his first career. His mother wanted him to be a lawyer, and he was on that path at Kent State University. He transferred to Ohio State University, and an adviser told him about the then-new field of speech and hearing therapy.
He received a bachelor of science degree in speech and hearing from Ohio State and, later, a master of speech pathology and psychology degree from Bowling Green State University.
He started in Sandusky schools in 1956 after stints in Marion, Ohio, and Lorain, Ohio, schools.
Sandusky students usually were referred to him by teachers who noticed someone whose speech was delayed or lisped or couldn't pronounce an R sound. He usually saw them in groups of five or fewer.
"He was just wonderful doing it, and he loved kids," his wife said. "He wasn't pushy with the kids. When you're a teacher and you have 20 or 25 kids in your classroom, you can't give the individual attention you can when you have five in a classroom. It was him and the kids, and he wasn't pressured, so he didn't have to pressure the kids."
He and his wife were longtime participants in the Harlequins Community Theatre. She acted. He directed, and his productions ranged from drama - Come Back, Little Sheba - to comedy - The Odd Couple.
Mr. Ailing was a 1945 graduate of Strasburg, Ohio, High School. He enlisted in the Navy, but World War II was over by the time he was out of boot camp.
Surviving are his wife, Suzanne Ailing, whom he married June 11, 1955; daughters, Holly Sue Ailing and Marianne Webb; sons, Steve and Scott Ailing; three grandchildren; three step-grandchildren, and a step-great-granddaughter.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. today in Christ Episcopal Church, Huron, Ohio. Arrangements are by Groff Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to Easter Seals; Save Our Seniors, an agency in Sandusky, or Gideons International, of which he was a member.