Ann Antenen liked to tell people she was the first, and only, female mayor of Hamilton, said her daughter Susan Antenen.
She died Jan 21 in hospice. She was 96.
“She had a good life,” her daughter said. “She was involved in many things, and many people loved her.”
When she arrived in the city in the early 1950s after marrying Hamilton native Jay F. Antenen Sr., it was difficult for an out-of-towner to settle in, her daughter said. But eventually she set down deep roots in the community.
Among other accomplishments, she and Jay Antenen founded CHAPS (Citizens for Historic and Preservation Services). They bought older houses, including some on Ross Avenue and Third Street, restored them and rented them.
She helped save several historic buildings, including the former Anthony Wayne Hotel, which was supposed to be torn down. CHAPS found a developer and the building now offers affordable housing. Another major preservation victory was the Elisha Morgan Mansion in Fairfield.
Antenen was sworn in as Hamilton’s vice mayor in January, 1978, and a month later, took the city’s highest elected post when Mayor Frank Witt died during a City Council meeting.
She also was a recognized local artist who specialized in oil paintings depicting Hamilton and the local countryside, but also worked with watercolors and mosaics. YWCA Hamilton in 2001 named her Woman of the Year.
As a kid growing up in Hamilton, Michael “Mike” Brockman always wanted to be a police officer.
He certainly realized his dream. Brockman, a former St. Clair Twp. Police Department sergeant, corporal in the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and instructor at Butler Tech Police Academy, died Feb. 1. He was 65.
“His legacy is forever etched into the minds of those he worked with,” the BCSO wrote on its Facebook page.
Brockman graduated from Hamilton Taft High School in 1974 and Miami University in 1976. After starting his career in the security department at Champion International in Hamilton, he served as a sergeant in the St. Clair Twp. Police Department.
Brockman began his nearly 40 years of service with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office as a special deputy from Jan. 10, 1978 through September of 1982. He worked for St. Clair Twp. from September of 1982 to June of 1992.
He then returned to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office as a special deputy in July of 1992 until October of 1998 when he was hired as a deputy sheriff/court services. He was promoted to the rank of deputy on Sept. 23, 2000 and promoted to the rank of corporal on Sept. 4, 2013 until his retirement on Jan. 5, 2018.
“He loved nothing more than being a police officer,” said Peggy Brockman, his wife of 21 years. “Law was first, teaching was second. He was always about helping people. He was a committed man. He was good at what he did.”
Sister M. Pascaline Colling
Sister M. Pascaline Colling, who served as executive director of Schroder Manor, a long term facility in Hamilton now called Bradford Place, died Jan. 20. She was 95.
Schroder, a nursing home and care facility, opened its doors in Hamilton in 1972 and just a few months after, Colling became the facility’s administrator, a position she held for 32 years.
“There were the usual challenges,” Colling said during a 2012 interview, speaking of some early financial difficulties. “But everything works out when you work at something.”
Colling played a major role in the expansion of Schroder Manor. Construction of condominiums behind the facility began in 1983. A new chapel and south wing were added in 1987.
“I always liked building things,” Colling said 10 years ago. “I get a lot of credit here, but I always had great support from the board of directors and the congregation.”
A native of Quincy, Ill., Colling worked in a nursing facility as a teenager where she had contact with the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. That inspired her to convert to Catholicism and two years later to enter the congregation when she took the name of Sr. Mary Pascaline.
In 1995, she founded Extravagant Bargains Thrift Store on Main Street that raised money for the manor. She also served on various hospital and community boards and was a member of Altrusa of Hamilton for years.
For all Ronald Couch accomplished on the athletic fields and in the academic world, nothing made him happier than staying home with his wife and children.
“He loved his family,” said Brett Couch, one of his three sons.
Couch, a standout athlete at Hamilton High School and University of Cincinnati, died Feb. 12 in his Hamilton home. He was 85.
Couch’s father, Elmer, died when he was 10 and he and his brother were raised on Second Street by their mother, Gladys.
He graduated from Hamilton High School in 1954 where he was an All-Ohio football player and was elected captain of the North South All-Star game. He played football at the University of Florida and was recruited by Bear Bryant, then coach at the University of Kentucky.
But he accepted a football scholarship at the University of Cincinnati. He was co-captain and named to the all-Missouri Valley Conference as an offensive lineman.
Couch received his undergraduate degree from UC and his master’s degree from Xavier University.
He was inducted into the Hamilton City Schools and the Butler County Athletic Halls of Fame.
Couch served as a Hamilton police officer before transitioning careers to an educator, coach, counselor, and administrator for Middletown and Hamilton city schools districts, his son said. He retired in 1990, then provided transportation for an assisted living center until he was 82.
Maria Luisa Hagen’s family said she lived the American dream by working hard and becoming a successful businesswoman.
Born in Spain in 1935, the year before the Spanish Civil began, Hagen moved to France in 1956 where she met her future husband, Elmer Hagen, an American airman.
“She always dreamed about coming to the United States,” said her daughter, Melissa Hagen, 57.
That dream was realized when the family moved to Kansas, then South Carolina, then to Middletown. She opened Michele’s Restaurant, named after her oldest daughter, in 1976 inside the City Centre Mall.
Hagen died Aug. 12. She was 87.
While in South Carolina, Hagen broke her back and doctors said she would never walk again. But she continued rehabilitation and walked again, though with a limp.
“It was a miracle,” her daughter said.
Hagen said her mother was “always positive even in sad times” and she never quit, a trait she passed to her three children.
Floyd Hopper easily could have been killed while serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
But his flight out of Seattle was delayed and while waiting at the airport, his entire mash unit was killed, said his son, Gary.
“I’m lucky to be here,” his son said. “The same with my sisters. If not for a twist of fate things would have been much different.”
Floyd Hopper died Jan. 6 at Hospice of Hamilton. He was 90.
A 1950 Hamilton High School graduate and member of its hall of fame, Hopper attended Cedarville College.
After the service, he was employed as a graphic designer and supervisor for Monsanto Research in Miamisburg and previously for Bendix Corp. retiring in 1992.
He was an avid golfer, bowler and fisherman and enjoyed being around sports, his son said. He served as a high school basketball and football referee for more than 26 years, and volunteered on the chain gang for Miami University football games for 45 years, his son said.
Hopper also coached Little League baseball in Hamilton and volunteered to referee CYO football games every Sunday at Joyce Park.
Jean Ann Jordan
A lifelong member of a church, Jean Ann Jordan served as its organist and Vacation Bible School teacher and she made an “immeasurable impact” on the congregation and her community.
Jordan, who also taught kindergarten in the Middletown City Schools District, died Jan. 12 at Ohio Living Mount Pleasant in Monroe. She was 79.
Jordan played the organ for more than 30 years and also directed the children’s and adult choirs at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Middletown.
“She gave everything she could,” said Michelle Terry, pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran for 12 years. “She gifted our church and Middletown in so many ways, and we’ll miss her so much. She loved people and God faithfully and unconditionally. If you can name it, she helped with it.”
Terry was asked what lessons she learned from Jordan. She thought about the same question as she was writing Jordan’s eulogy.
“She really embodied the Christian’s idea of Christ,” she said. “She was one of the most generous people. If she saw a need, she tried to help in some way.”
Kyle Stamper, executive pastor at Towne Church, remembered visiting one of his members in Atrium Medical Center.
As was customary, Mabel McRoberts, of Middletown, talked about her deep religious faith to anyone who would listen, regardless of how well she knew them.
“When she was done talking, I thought we probably should pass around an offering plate,” Stamper said with a laugh. “She was always ready to share. She was a cheerleader and coach. She would motivate you and cheer you on.”
McRoberts, four days shy of her 106th birthday, died Nov. 13 at Atrium.
One of Butler County’s oldest residents, McRoberts outlived two husbands, was survived by a third husband, and drove until recently.
“What a spectacular life she lived,” said her only child, Barbara Garrison, 80, of Middletown. “She touched a lot of lives.”
She and her family owned and operated Homan’s Market on Oxford State Road and she also worked at Aeronca Corp. in Middletown and was a Sunday school teacher.
Greg Meyer, 55, of Fairfield, gave his time and talents to design the Miracle League’s Hope Center, a multipurpose building slated to open in 2024.
He was also the first recipient of the Joe Nuxhall scholarship when he graduated from Fairfield High School in 1985. He died Aug. 16 from complications from cancer treatment. He was 55.
Kim Nuxhall, the CEO and president of The Nuxhall Foundation, was one of Meyer’s high school baseball coaches when they won the 1985 Ohio AAA state championship. He also received the Joe Nuxhall Award and Scholarship that year.
“He was one of the finest young men walking this planet,” Nuxhall said.
Scott Miller knew Meyer since they were 11 years old, and played on the ‘85 state championship team.
“I don’t know if God ever put a better person on this planet than Greg,” said Miller. “If you could talk to ever single person that met him, and no one would have a bad thing to say about him.”
Meyer earned a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s from Miami University. He was a registered architect in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky and a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
He spent 29 years with Robert Treadon and Associates in Hamilton.
William ‘Kippy’ Moore
William “Kippy” Moore, called “a giant in the community,” died April 2 after battling colon cancer. He was 58.
Moore, a 1981 Middletown High School graduate, earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Cincinnati. He worked at Universal Studios in California, then returned to Middletown and immediately started sharing singing talent and his smile with the community.
He worked for The Middletown Journal as administrative assistant to the publisher, program director at the Middletown Senior Citizens Center, student services at Cincinnati State and program director at the Dayton Salvation Army Kroc Center.
He also was active in the arts community.
Moore represented the Second Ward on Middletown City Council in 2005-06, but resigned after fulfilling two years of his four-year term.
“That took away his smile,” Michael Bailey, pastor at Faith United Church, said of Moore’s introduction to city council. “He didn’t have time for politics. He loved people and people loved him.”
Moore was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years ago, then the cancer returned in February when spots were discovered on his liver, said Celeste Didlick-Davis, his first cousin by marriage.
She said Moore avoided conflict so he rarely rejected an opportunity to perform for free or volunteer in the community.
“He had unconditional love and a heart of a servant,” Davis said. “He loved everybody. He was a guy who made you feel like it was just you and him in a room full of people. He shared himself and he was a man who lived what he believed.”
Didlick-Davis said Moore’s death left “a big hole in our community.”
Larry Mulligan Sr.
Larry Mulligan Sr., the youngest of six children, lost his father when he was 2, so he didn’t have a father growing up.
Still Mulligan “excelled” as a dad to his six children, said Joe Mulligan, one of his five sons.
“He always put family first, and provided us with the best childhood that we could want,” Joe Mulligan said of his father who died June 13 at the age of 81.
Mulligan said his father showed “unconditional love” for his children and there was “never a question of the strong, loving bond” between him and his wife of 55 years, Catherine “Cathie” Mulligan.
Mulligan Sr. attended Holy Trinity School and graduated from Fenwick High School in 1959. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Dayton.
His professional career started at Interstate Box Company and four years later, he joined Armco in the cost accounting division at Middletown Works. He later was manager of the Armco Credit Union, followed by 10 years with the city of Middletown.
He was treasurer at Wildwood Golf Club and on the St. John XXIII school board. His civic service included terms on the Board of Zoning Appeals, Committee for Catholic Education, Middletown YMCA, Fenwick fundraising campaigns, and Holy Family Parish bereavement choir.
Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller called James Noonan “truly one of the finest people” he ever met.
“He didn’t talk a lot, but when he spoke to me, I listened,” said Moeller, who served on city council with Noonan. “He was just friendly to me. There were few finer gentlemen in the city.”
Noonan, owner and director of Webb Noonan Funeral Home for more than 50 years, died May 2 in his Hamilton residence. He was 85.
In 2010, Noonan was recognized by the Ohio Funeral Directors Association for his five decades service.
Since he was 13, he knew he was meant for the funeral business. A brief college stint training as a dentist showed him he liked what he was doing and he officially became a director in November 1959, joining what is now Webb-Noonan Funeral Home in 1967. He sold that business in 2000.
After he retired from the funeral business, he opened Noonan’s party store.
Donzetta Nuxhall, the wife of the famed Ol’ Lefthander Joe Nuxhall for 60 years, died July 21. She was 93.
Joe and Donzetta were married in October 1947, and the family said she was “the glue that made the astounding career of her husband possible.” Her husband never denied that, having once said, “For what she’s been through, I don’t know how to explain it. She’s been an absolute saint, an angel.”
In a statement from the Nuxhall Foundation, the organization that supports legacy projects, like the Miracle League and college scholarships, in Joe’s name, “Donzetta was there to ensure that all was well and taken care of at the Nuxhall family home. While Joe was away playing and broadcasting, Donzetta took responsibility for raising the family and providing a warm and encouraging home life for Joe, (and sons) Phil and Kim.”
Donzetta was her husband’s biggest fan, always sure to scrapbook Joe’s entire career, from newspaper clippings and photos, marking the achievements from his playing days as a Cincinnati Reds pitcher and then a broadcaster.
Joe Nuxhall died in November 2007 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Nuxhall family said while saddened by Joe’s death, she was “determined to help his story live on,” and was one of the chief supporters of the projects that helped to establish The Nuxhall Foundation.
Jane Robinson was “a special person that enjoyed life and never got cheated,” said her son, Lenny Robinson.
“We should all be so lucky,” he said.
Robinson died Jan. 6. She was 101.
Robinson, who had lived at Ohio Living Mount Pleasant in Monroe for 19 years, took a neighbor some cookies and while walking to the mailbox, accidentally fell and broke her elbow and hip. She never fully recovered from surgery, her son said.
She graduated from Withrow High School in Cincinnati and Ohio Wesleyan University where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Kappa Kappa Gamma. She married William K. Robinson in 1941 and they were married for 55 years. They moved to Middletown in 1954.
From 1960-63, she served as the first woman stock broker in southwest Ohio when she worked for Greene & Ladd inside the Manchester Inn. Then, from 1966-1972, she managed the Miami-Middletown University bookstore.
A man once walked into Pastor Ronald Stewart’s church office and said he needed a pair of shoes.
So Stewart unlaced his shoes, reached over his desk and gave them to the man.
“That’s how he was,” his daughter Beth Baker said through tears. “He told the man he had a closet full of shoes. If he had it he just gave it. He loved helping people.”
Stewart, who founded three churches in Butler County, died March 25 after having cancer. He was 84.
At New Life Baptist Church, one of the churches Stewart founded, volunteers there helped feed and clothe people in Hamilton for many years. The food pantry program started when a man named Ralph Love said he was hungry. Stewart fixed him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“He loved Hamilton and he loved helping people,” his daughter said.
Stewart also loved fishing, Baker said.
“If he wasn’t fishing for men,” she said, “he was fishing for fish.”
Stewart was serving as pastor of the High Street Baptist Church in Hamilton when he died. He was a Kentucky Colonel and in 1985 was runner up for Citizen of the Year for the city of Hamilton.
A 1982 Middletown High School graduate, who received a standing ovation from his classmates at their commencement, is being remembered for the way he treated others.
David M. Williams died Sept. 22 at Atrium Medical Center, days after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 59.
A person with special needs, Williams worked at McDonald’s on Breiel Boulevard, bagged groceries at Kroger on Towne Boulevard and umpired games at Goldman Park. There is a memorial with a picture of Williams and balloons near the check-out lanes at Kroger and numerous customers and employees have signed the poster.
His mother, Shirley Williams, 83, said her son “overcame every obstacle” and she always encouraged him to chase his dreams, whether that was taking karate or guitar lessons.
“Anything he wanted to do, I backed him,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t do something. I was his biggest cheerleader.”
Ross Twp. Trustee Tom Willsey was described as “true Ross through and through” and someone who left an unmatched legacy serving his community.
Willsey, 74, died April 8 after battling cancer and just days after the community paid tribute to him and renamed the trustee board room in his honor.
“When you think about it, anything that anybody did before him and anything that anybody does after him is measured by what he did,” former township administrator Bob Bass said. “He gave 36 years of his life as a trustee and even more as a fireman, and starting as a volunteer fireman and I think he made it all the way to position of assistant chief. He’s just been a major part of the community for a long time.”
In addition to his governmental service he was a past president of the Ohio Township Association, past president of Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority (OTARMA), served for 20 years on the board of directors for the Butler County Township Association, chairman of the Butler County Advisory Health Council, member of the Small Community Advisory Council EPA, member of and past president of the Ross Lions Club.