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Published: Thursday, 1/16/2014

Carl F. Konieczny; 1938-2014: Oak Harbor restaurant owner hosted the President

Konieczny Konieczny

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Carl F. Konieczny, whose long hours and dedication helped turn his restaurant, Kozy Corners, into a small-town gathering spot, died Tuesday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital. He was 75.

He had diabetes and had suffered health problems for five years, son John said.

Mr. Konieczny, though not getting around well, was seated at the counter when President Obama paid a visit on July 5, 2012, during a campaign tour. Mr. Obama came over to greet him, and a photo was taken as the men shook hands.

“It was a nice feeling that somebody that important would have the time to stop in this little restaurant,’’ said his son, who has helped run Kozy Corners the last five years. Yet when asked whether anyone else of that significance had been to the restaurant, Mr. Konieczny replied, “Only me.”

“He was never better than anybody but he was as good as everybody,” his son said. “That was his attitude all the way through.’’

The Konieczny brothers — Carl, Don, and Mel — in 1974 bought and reopened a venue that had been shuttered. The brothers continued farming. Their sister, Virginia Crimm, oversaw daily operations.

Mr. Konieczny became sole owner in 1990, gave up farming, and with his wife, Sandra, ran the restaurant. He was there at 5:30 a.m. to open, did most of the cooking, and often put in 16-hour days, his wife said. He insisted that Kozy Corners not close for any holidays except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

“He said, ‘These people need us. We have to stay open,’ ” his wife said. “We have a really good bunch of people who come in there, and our help is fabulous. I go in every day.”

He could be contrary — and generous. He told his wife, “ ‘If I wasn’t rough-and-tough, we wouldn’t have anything. I’d give it all away,’ ” she recalled. “And I think he would have. He was very easygoing.”

Born Oct. 1, 1938, to Anna and Joseph Konieczny, he grew up on a farm in Ottawa County’s Benton Township. He was a 1956 graduate of Oak Harbor High School.

He liked to play poker and belonged to several card clubs; before his illness he was a regular at the casino in Windsor, Ont. For several years, he had an ownership interest in standardbred race horses.

Surviving are his wife, Sandra, whom he married Oct. 12, 1963; son, John; daughters, Patti Greenhill and Annette Walls; brother, Donald, and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday in the Crosser Funeral Home, Oak Harbor. Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Boniface Church, Oak Harbor, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to St. Boniface Church; Heartland Hospice, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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

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