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Published: Monday, 1/23/2012

Richard Brandel, 1922-2012: Blade retiree known for neighborhood Halloween display

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF

Richard Brandel, a retired Linotype operator who was known for the talking Halloween display that attracted children for nearly 40 years to his South Toledo neighborhood, died Friday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Toledo.

He was 89.

His daughter, Carol Hepner, didn't know the cause of death. She said Mr. Brandel was given a diagnosis of Alzheimer's about five years ago. He had been living at Swan Creek Retirement Village.

Mr. Brandel was employed many years in the composing room at The Blade as a Linotype operator, a skilled trade that he learned at Superior Typesetting. He retired from the newspaper in 1984.

His family said he was known for the talking "pumpkin man" that he made in the yard of his home on Mapleway Drive, near Beverly Drive. Mrs. Hepner said the display, which he first installed in 1962, was a pumpkin stuck on a light post, with a raincoat draped over the pole and boots below.

She said her father wired speakers to the pumpkin and would talk to children remotely while he hid behind the curtains in the living room of his home.

"He talked to the kids through the pumpkin man," Mrs. Hepner said.

The display attracted hundreds of children every year to the neighborhood. Mrs. Hepner said neighbors joked about how much candy they had to buy because parents drove their children to see the pumpkin man.

Mr. Brandel grew up in South Toledo. He graduated in 1940 from Central Catholic High School. His brother, Joe Brandel, said he went to work at Superior Typesetting after high school and was later drafted into the Army during World War II.

He said his employer promised Mr. Brandel that he would have a job when he returned from the war.

Mrs. Hepner said her father was a gunnery sergeant with the 102nd Infantry Division in Europe.

He married the former Esther Hoffman on Sept. 17, 1949. They met at Superior Typesetting, where she was employed as a secretary. She died Feb. 21, 2005.

In retirement, Mr. Brandel volunteered several days a week serving breakfast to the poor at Claver House, a central-city soup kitchen that operated in the Dorr Street-Detroit Avenue area.

Surviving are his daughters, Kathleen Hiss, Barbara Spiro, and Carol Hepner, sons, Thomas and John Brandel, brothers William and A. Joseph Brandel; 16 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at noon Monday in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Coyle Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer's Association or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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