Monday, May 21, 2018
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Norbert J. 'Monk' Mehling, 1932-2012: 30-year firefighter served in south end




Norbert J. “Monk” Mehling, a longtime Toledo firefighter who kept close ties to colleagues and to friends from childhood, died Sunday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. He was 80.

He had congestive heart failure, his son Joe said.

Mr. Mehling, of South Tol-edo, retired from the fire department in 1987. He joined nearly 30 years earlier, and his brother, Don, was already on the force.

Mr. Mehling was assigned the last two years as a dispatcher in the alarm office downtown. Most of his career was working out of south end fire houses — No. 5, then at Broadway and Logan Street; No. 15 on Fearing Boulevard; No. 21 at South Detroit Avenue and Glendale Avenue.

“He was always 10 minutes from home if he needed to come home,” his son said.

Robert Schwanzl, a retired Toledo assistant fire chief, said: “Most of his time was on the line, and he was one of those guys everybody looked up to.”

“He was one of those guys who was always there,” Chief Schwanzl said. “He was a friend to an awful lot of people.”

Mr. Mehling largely spared his six children most details of a work shift, whether heroic, routine, or tragic.

He once had to free a pregnant woman from a crashed car, and his fellow responders delivered her baby. He was at the multialarm fires that consumed Hagerty Bowling Center atn Jackson and 12th streets and the downtown Tiedtke’s store.

“Home was more a place for him to be at peace and away from the stuff he saw on the job,” his son Ned said. “He loved the camaraderie of the guys. It was a fraternity for sure.

“He loved the idea of helping. He felt proud to be a firefighter,” Mr. Mehling’s son said. “He never beat his chest, but you could tell he enjoyed it.”

While off duty, he worked at Leydorf Meat Market, which became Northwood Farms, and Keystone Exterminator.

“He worked hard his whole life,” his son Joe said. “He provided for us six kids the way he needed to.”

He was born May 31, 1932, to Irene and Al Mehling and grew up on Colburn Street in South Toledo. He was a 1950 graduate of Libbey High School and was in the Army during the Korean War, serving in Trieste, Italy.

As a young man, he played on the firefighters’ fast-pitch softball team. As a retiree, he played golf and socialized with friends from childhood.

“We value our friendships as much as he did. He taught us that,” son Ned said.

Mr. Mehling’s children have remained in the Toledo area. “My dad was a patriarch,” son Joe said. “He made sure we all stuck together and stayed tight.”

His companion Jan McClaughlin was by his side at family functions as well, son Joe said.

His wife, Lorene, died July 31, 1999. They had married Oct. 18, 1958.

Surviving are his daughters, Karen Medere and Mary Beth Lorigan; sons, Joe, Gerard, Jim, and Ned Mehling; sister, Thelma Wood; 10 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation is to be from 2 to 8 p.m. today in Coyle Funeral Home, with Scripture and “last alarm” at 7 p.m. The funeral is to be at 10 a.m. Thursday in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, where he was a 42-year member. The family suggests tributes to the church, Little Sisters of the Poor, or the Toledo Firefighters Museum.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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