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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

Thomas R. Hadley, 1942-2011: Area home builder was a pioneer of green work


Thomas R. Hadley, a home builder who was a local pioneer of energy-efficient methods long before green construction went mainstream, died Monday of complications from a quadruple heart bypass surgery. He was 69.

Mr. Hadley started his career building modular homes after graduating from the University of Toledo in 1966. Though he was pleased with the homes' quality, he didn't like that their strict designs prohibited him from tweaking floor plans for his customers. In 1977, he founded Hadley & Associates, where he took interest in a relatively new building method that used wood foundations.

"The biggest problem that new homeowners complained of back, oh, 30, 40, 50 years ago, their complaint was, 'We built this brand-new house and we expect it to have a dry basement and we don't have one.' So the wood industry took it upon themselves to design a system that would provide a lower level that would always be dry and comfortable and use less energy," said Mr. Hadley's wife of more than 44 years, Geraldine.

Those wood foundations were at the time used mostly in climates slightly cooler than Ohio's, but with some encouragement from friends Mr. Hadley decided they would work in Toledo -- assuming he could get code approval.

"Over a few years, he got them to really take him seriously and see the benefits that it offered," Mrs. Hadley said.

It was there he found his niche, building three or four custom-designed homes a year in Michigan and Ohio. His work ranged from simple, three-bedroom ranch styles to a shrunken-down Frank Lloyd Wright design near the Maumee River.

Mr. Hadley was born in Holly, Mich., to Maurice Frank and Beatrice Jean Hadley. His father owned a lumber yard, and his familiarity with what happens to wood left in the elements initially gave him some pause over the idea of wood foundations. Ultimately, though, they proved dry, warm, and energy-efficient.

The construction slowdown sped up Mr. Hadley's retirement plans, his wife said, but the two took the opportunity to travel.

Mr. Hadley enjoyed playing golf and cards and was involved in the Young Life program, which ministers to teens.

Surviving are his wife, Geraldine; son, Scott; daughters Andrea J. Richardson and Karen S. Murphy; sister, Janie Hadley, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Waterville Community Church, Waterville. Visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee.

The family suggests tributes to Waterville Community Church and its Young Life Program.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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