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Published: Friday, 4/12/2013

Charles A. Vandewiele, 1917-2013: Typesetter a leader in his union at The Blade

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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LAMBERTVILLE — Charles A. Vandewiele, a typesetter by trade who was longtime secretary-treasurer of his union local when it was the largest unit at The Blade and who administered its health and welfare fund, died April 4 in Aspen Grove nursing home in Lambertville. He was 95.

He had pancreatic cancer, said John Hrivnyak, his son-in-law. Retirees of Toledo Typographical Union Local 63, or their survivors, continued to phone him for guidance until days before his death.

“They counted on him,” Mr. Hrivnyak said.

Mr. Vandewiele retired in 1988.

He was born June 25, 1917, in Detroit to Honorine and Camiel Vandewiele and grew up in a Belgian-American neighborhood on the city’s east side. His parents were Flemish and when he was 9 moved the family back to Wingene, Belgium. He learned to be a printer in school. He was in the Belgian Army as World War II started, but the military surrendered within days of Germany’s May, 1940, invasion. He wasn’t taken prisoner and instead was allowed to care for his mother and work, Mr. Hrivnyak said.

After the war, Mr. Vandewiele returned with his wife to the United States. He still had family in Detroit and relations in northern Ohio, so they settled in the Toledo area.

“He was always a risk taker, and rolling the dice without a job was not shocking for him,” Mr. Hrivnyak said. “It was a giant leap of faith for his wife, who was pregnant with my wife.”

He joined Local 63, which represented printers at The Blade and the former Toledo Times and at print shops. By the early 1950s, he was working in the newspapers’ composing room at a Linotype, a mammoth machine that set type in hot lead. For much of his career, though, he was Local 63 secretary-treasurer, a position to which members re-elected him for decades.

“Charlie knew everything about bookkeeping. He knew everything about insurance, anything you wanted to know about taxes,” said Jim Adams, a Blade retiree and a former Local 63 board member who started as a printer. “He was a gentleman, probably the nicest guy I met in my years in the union.”

In the early 1970s, Mr. Vandewiele took on additional duties as administrator of the health and welfare fund that served Local 63 members at The Blade. That became, when he retired, part of the health and welfare trust fund that served the other unions.

“He came to be my mentor and my friend,” said Al Espen, who in 1997 became administrative manager of the newspaper unions-Blade trust funds. “He was such an organized guy.”

Mr. Vandewiele was a longtime Oregon resident and a former volunteer firefighter there. He was a former member of St. Ignatius Church.

He and his wife, Rachel, married June 14, 1947. She died Aug. 31, 2011.

Surviving are his daughters, Rita Hrivnyak and Maria Horn, and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. today in the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance, with a Scripture service at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in St. Anthony Church, Temperance, where he was a member and where visitation is to begin at noon.

The family suggests tributes to the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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