Alfred E. Hirzel, who grew up in the former Ross Township and helped shape what became the city of Northwood, died Thursday in Bay Park Hospital in Oregon. He was 90.
He’d been in ill health, his daughter, Kathy, said.
He grew up near Oregon and Wales roads, where his grandfather and father — both Alfred — and his uncle, Walter, started Alfred Hirzel & Sons Greenhouse. His grandfather’s brother, Carl, began a separate firm, Hirzel Canning Co. From a young age, Mr. Hirzel worked in the greenhouses — 11 acres under glass, three coal-fired boilers keeping warm the Hirzels’ tomatoes and lettuce.
Mr. Hirzel in his early 30s joined what was then Ross Township’s fire station No. 1. By the early 1960s, the township incorporated as Northwood, and he served 12 years on Northwood council until 1982. As the village prepared to become a city, he served on the charter commission. Northwood voters approved a charter in 1981.
“People knew their neighbors and were shaping what they were living. It was early in the community,” his daughter said. “He read history and news magazines, and he was very well informed and thought he could have an influence — and did.”
He rarely could be budged when he made up his mind, and on some council votes “he would be the lone person to say ‘no’ to something,” his daughter said. “When he felt strongly about something, he felt strongly and would put his feet in cement.”
Zoning was a concern and, his daughter recalled, “as a little girl, I was always going and examining ditches. He’d take me through fields to look at the tiling. He wanted to find out what was going on.”
He was on an advisory committee that led to what is now Penta Career Center.
As a citizen in 1995, he spoke at a public meeting against a proposed expansion of the Evergreen Recycling & Disposal Facility, which he’d long opposed.
He was born Oct. 14, 1923, to Bertha and Alfred Hirzel. He was a graduate of the former Olney High School and was an Army veteran of World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater and endured 280 consecutive days of combat, his daughter said. For decades, he helped organize reunions of the men.
He returned from the Army to work in the greenhouse. The business closed after I-75 was built nearby. He and his brother, Robert, later farmed together, most notably growing mums on several acres, which they sold to florists and wholesalers. He worked for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. He retired in 1985 from the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., where he was a quality control inspector.
He was a founding member of Northwood VFW Post 2984.
He and his wife, Eleanor, married in 1958. She died Nov. 7, 2003.
Surviving are his sons, Alfred L. and Walter J.; daughter, Kathy Hirzel; brother, Ernest; two grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.
Visitation is 4-7 p.m. Thursday and 2-8 p.m. Friday in Eggleston-Meinert-Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Bethlehem Lutheran Church, with visitation at 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the church, of which he was a longtime member.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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