Mercene Hanneman, a third-generation funeral director who devoted her life to assisting others in hard times, died Thursday at Wood Haven Health Care nursing home in Bowling Green. She was 93.
Family members are not yet sure of the cause of death but think it might have had to do with her heart, her daughter Kathy Murray said.
Mrs. Hanneman was born on Aug. 13, 1924, the only child of Hildreth and William Wood.
Her maternal grandparents, Lillian and J.F. Deck, founded the Deck Funeral Home in Bowling Green in 1912. Both of her parents worked there as well.
Mrs. Hanneman was even born in the living quarters at the funeral home, her son Kraig Hanneman said.
“That was pretty common back then,” he added of being born at home. “Though maybe not in a funeral home!”
Mrs. Hanneman attended school in Bowling Green, graduating from high school in 1942.
Just after her graduation, in June, 1942, she married Karl Hanneman, a mortician from Elmore, Ohio.
They met when he came to her family’s funeral home looking for employment, her son said.
The newlyweds moved to Tennessee, where Mr. Hanneman served in the Army, Mrs. Murray said. When Mr. Hanneman went overseas, Mrs. Hanneman came back to Ohio to go to school.
In 1950, she graduated from BGSU with bachelor’s degrees in history and English.
By then, her husband was home from the war. They purchased a home in Bowling Green, started a family, and both began work at the funeral home.
“I think she carried on the family tradition because she really loved her grandpa,” Mrs. Murray said.
In 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Hanneman also bought McCord Infant Caskets and Vaults Manufacturing Company, their daughter said. They were the first people in the business to come out with standard sized infant caskets instead of making them to order.
The family owns the company to this day.
Several years later, in 1961, Mrs. Hanneman attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science.
“Being part of the family business and growing up with it, it just seems like a natural thing,” Mr. Hanneman said of his mother’s chosen career.
The same was true for three of her five children, including Mr. Hanneman and Mrs. Murray, who chose to become funeral directors as well.
“She taught me everything,” Mrs. Murray said. “Her shoes were a little bigger but I try to follow in them.”
She added that Mrs. Hanneman was always involved in every aspect of the funeral home, from behind-the-scenes bookkeeping to orchestrating events.
Outside of work, she was just as devoted to helping others through challenging times.
Mrs. Murray said one of her mother’s favorite things was corresponding with men at war, especially during the Vietnam War. She would often write letters or send care packages.
She was a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.
“She was just always helping people and thinking about others more than herself,” Mrs. Murray said.
Mrs. Hanneman was preceded in death by her husband, Karl Hanneman, and one grandchild.
Surviving are her sons, Kris and Kraig Hanneman; her daughters, Kathy Murray, Karla Hines, and Kyle Hanneman; seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home in Bowling Green. The funeral will be in the same place the next day at 10:30 a.m.
The family said tributes in Mrs. Hanneman’s name may be given to a place of the donor’s choosing.
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