FOSTORIA - Thomas Charles Hoening, who operated the Hoening Funeral Home in Fostoria for 27 years until he suffered a disabling stroke, died Saturday in Fostoria Community Hospital of complications from a heart attack.
He was 71.
He bought the former Foos-Sullivan funeral home in 1963, his widow, Constance "Connie" Hoening said.
He was employed at the Vale Funeral Home in Celina, Ohio, when he was in high school in Mercer County's Coldwater.
"It was what he liked to do. He worked all his life at local funeral homes. Even in high school he worked in a funeral home," his wife said.
In 1990, at the age of 52, he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side with some loss of speech as well. He was forced to give up operating the funeral home, so his son, Terrance, then 27, took over the business.
After that, according to Mrs. Hoening, Mr. Hoening continued to be devoted to his Catholic faith. She said she and her husband, who were sweethearts at Coldwater High School, grew even closer and spent almost no time apart.
"He enjoyed the milder things of life. We would basically keep together with family a lot. Church was a big thing with Tom," Mrs. Hoening said. Activities included cleaning and waxing his car, and following the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees baseball games on the radio.
Terrance Hoening said his father remained interested in the business. He said his parents lived next door to the funeral home, and Mr. Hoening's chair would be placed so he could watch the comings and goings.
"He watched every funeral procession I left on. I would wave from the lead car and he would wave every time," Mr. Hoening said.
He said his father also ran an ambulance service in the early 1960s, which was typical of the time. He said his father went into the mortuary business to help people.
"There's no question - the gratification of helping people. The compliments and warm feelings, that's one of the things over the last few days we've heard, and that's one of the things that's helping us cope with grief at this time," Terrance Hoening said.
The business expanded with the acquisition of another Fostoria funeral home, now called Mann-Hare-Hoening Funeral Home, in 2005, and the former David R. Jasin Funeral Home, now called David R. Jasin-Hoening Funeral Home, in Point Place in Toledo in July.
"He was very proud and supportive. We gave him a tour of the Point Place facility two weeks ago, met all the staff and employees," Terrance Hoening said.
Mr. Hoening said his father was very meticulous and organized. "He liked things in good order," he said.
Thomas Hoening attended Villa Madonna College in Covington, Ky., and in 1961 graduated from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
The Hoenings married after his graduation and moved to Cuyahoga Falls, north of Akron, where he served his apprenticeship at the former Clifford Funeral Home.
He was a member of St. Wendelin Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus and a former member of the Ohio and national funeral directors associations.
He is survived by his wife, Constance; son, Terrance; daughter, Victoria Sapp, and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be in Hoening Funeral Home, 242 West Tiffin St., after 2 p.m. today. A Rosary will be recited at 10 a.m. tomorrow followed by the funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. at St. Wendelin Catholic Church.
Tributes are suggested to St. Wendelin Church and School or the Sisters of Notre Dame.