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Published: Friday, 8/1/2014

Thomas L. McNerney: 1929-2014; Geologist had golfed since he was a child


Thomas L. McNerney, 85, a geologist and a noted amateur golfer who became general manager of a family company, died July 22, in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

He had dementia and was injured in a recent fall, his son Jim said.

Mr. Mc-Nerney, a longtime South Toledoan, lived since February at St. Clare Commons in Perrysburg. He and his late wife, Phyllis Jean, were former residents of Palm Harbor, Fla.

He retired in about 1990 when the family sold O’Connell Machine & Tool Co., which was founded in 1950 by James C. O’‍Connell, his father-in-law. He became general manager of the firm in 1963 after Mr. O‘‍Connell’s death.

Mr. McNerney worked as a geologist in Colorado and Kansas. His employers included Bechtel Corp., the construction and engineering giant. He and his wife, both Toledo natives, returned home in the mid-1950s. He started as an apprentice tool maker in his father-in-law’‍s firm, which counted Owens-Illinois and RCA among its customers. He drew on that experience when he took charge.

“He had to quickly go out and find the opportunities and sell the work and quote the jobs,” his son said. “He wouldn‘‍t be able to quote the jobs unless he knew what it took to do the work.”

Most evenings after dinner, with family activity swirling around him, Mr. McNerney sat at the kitchen table for hours to work out job quotations, his son said. He liked dealing with people, and the feeling was mutual.

“He wasn‘‍t afraid to share his opinion, and even if you disagreed with him, you liked him for some reason,” his son said.

In retirement, Mr. McNerney was a volunteer golf course rater for the U.S. Golf Association. Several days a week he and a team traveled to a course, mostly in eastern states, and measured the physical features and computed degrees of difficulty. Then he and the team played the course and assessed whether the course’‍s ratings and handicaps were appropriate, his son said.

He was about 7-years-old when his father first took him out to hit golf balls.

“He took a liking to it,” son Jim said. “And then he caddied, and then played the game.”

His home course became Heather Downs Country Club, where he was champion multiple times in the 1960s and ’70s. He also was a regular in the Toledo District Golf Association‘‍s amateur tournaments, and he served a term as the association’‍s president.

Born April 13, 1929, to Ruth and Lester McNerney, he was a graduate of Central Catholic High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology from St. Joseph’‍s College, Rensselaer, Ind. He was a 40-year season ticket holder for University of Notre Dame football.

His wife died Nov. 27, 2006. Their youngest son, Kevin, died in 2004.

Surviving are his sons, Tom and Jim; daughters, Carol McNerney, Mary Pat Bartoszek, Cathleen Henning, Kelley Johnson, and Amy Jasinski; sisters, Jean Chennges, Janet Harper, and Joan O’‍Connor; brother, Don; 24 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today in Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Arrangements are by the Coyle Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer‘‍s Association; Our Lady of Lourdes, or the American Diabetes Association.

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

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