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Published: Wednesday, 9/19/2012

Donald M. Mennel, 1918-2012: Milling chairman was ‘quiet’ leader

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FOSTORIA — Donald M. Mennel, a leader in his community, his industry, and the law — his late-in-life profession — who was the third generation to head the family flour milling business, died Monday in the Good Shepherd Home. He was 94.

The family did not report a cause of death.

On Tuesday, Fostoria City Council approved a resolution honoring him.

In 1993, he became chairman emeritus of Mennel Milling Co., which was founded in 1886 as Harter Milling Co. His grandfather Alphonse; his father, Louis, and his uncle Mark bought control of the company in 1917.

The family firm became a leader in the milling of soft wheat for baked goods, although its mills produce all types of flour. He retired as president in 1983, and his son Donald L. Mennel took that role.

Mr. Mennel was a former president of the Toledo Board of Trade. He was active in grain industry groups and was a former chairman of the Millers’ National Federation. In 1981, then-Agriculture Secretary John Block named him to an advisory committee on the U.S. Grain Standards Act.

When he first joined the board of The Andersons, the Maumee-based agricultural firm, he was only the third director from outside the family.

“Don was a brilliant man, and a wonderful man with real high ethics,” said Richard Anderson, chairman emeritus. “I was CEO when he responded positively to our request to come on the board. Boy, it was a relief because we needed someone who understood the vicissitudes of the grain business” — as what happens to prices and supply after a drought. “Don was a wonderful addition and served us well for many years.”

The firm has had a mill in Fostoria since its founding, but for 65 years, corporate offices were in Toledo. Mr. Mennel announced in 1959 that headquarters would move to Fostoria. He was on the boards of the local chamber of commerce, what is now ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital, and the local YMCA. He also had been a national YMCA trustee.

Mr. Mennel was “one of the quiet leaders in the community,” said Mike Corcoran, a former executive director of the chamber of commerce.

At age 65, Mr. Mennel went to Ohio Northern University law school. He was admitted to the bar in 1986. His specialty was closely held corporations and commodities futures trading, but he also served as a court-appointed receiver in grain elevator bankruptcies and became a speaker on commodities and agriculture law.

He was born May 18, 1918, to Ethyl and Louis Mennel. He grew up in Toledo’s Old West End and was a 1940 graduate of Yale University. He was an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, serving in West African and on the Aleutian Islands.

He married the former Patsy Lewis on May 17, 1945. She died Oct. 11, 2010.

Surviving are his sons, Donald L., James R., and John W. Mennel; eight grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be in First Presbyterian Church, Fostoria, where he was a member. Arrangements are by the Harrold-Floriana Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church; the Fostoria Community Hospital Foundation; the Geary Family YMCA endowment fund; or the Good Shepherd Home’s capital campaign.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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