Thomas Beckett Rentschler took on voluminous and vast roles in his 84 years of life.
Navy veteran, respected member of the banking community, philanthropist, author, antique firearms collector and historian were just some of the roles he took on. He was also a two-term Ohio House member, serving from January 1967 to December 1970, representing the 40th Ohio House District (which is now the 51st Ohio House District), and he and his wife, Dody — who died in 2004 and was an acclaimed gardener — collected 18th century furniture.
Rentschler died on Tuesday in hospice care after a brief illness.
“He was a great man,” said Mark Rentschler, the younger of his two sons. “He wanted to be known for all of those things. He wanted to leave a positive mark in any of his activities, whether they be business or civic.”
Tom Rentschler Jr. called his dad, “a true Renaissance man.”
“He just had so many interests,” said Rentschler Jr. “He spent a lot of time researching things he was passionate about, and was quite scholarly about the things he was most passionate about.”
One of his greatest passions was his hometown, being the executive director of the Hamilton Bicentennial Commission, which eventually launched the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. He was a president of the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton and helped to raise funds for the club’s East Avenue, and later the Grand Boulevard, facilities.
“He knew more about Hamilton’s history more than just about anyone, except for maybe (local historian) Jim Blount,” Rentschler Jr. said.
Rentschler was born in 1932 into a family known for civic involvement and business, starting with his great grandfather George Adam Rentschler. Rentschler Forest became a Butler County gem because his father, Walter Rentschler, deeded 90 acres to what is now MetroParks of Butler County.
And part of the Rentschler legacy is also with the Miami Conservancy District, where he was the fourth Rentschler to serve on the board since its inception in 1913. His son, Mark, succeeded him after his retirement from the board in September 2011.
Rentschler joined the Miami Conservancy District’s board in 1982. Janet Bly, the district’s general manager, was hired in 1994.
“The Rentschler family means a lot to the Miami Conservancy District,” she said.
When Rentschler retired, the board passed a resolution honoring his 29 years of service. Within the resolution, Bly said there’s a passage that describes him best: “He continually demonstrated extraordinary leadership, thoughtful decision-making, remarkable foresight, integrity and wisdom.”
“And that was Tom Rentschler,” Bly said.
Bly wasn’t aware of all the activities Rentschler was involved in outside the district.
“It’s interesting that he did all of those things because he was so humble,” she said. “We felt that we were the most important project he was working on … and I’m sure others will feel the same way.”
And Rentschler’s sons said when their father committed to something, he saw it through. The Rentschler family tradition of civic engagement goes back generations, they said.
” He was always active in the community, as well as in business, and that energy has always occupied a spot in our family,” Mark Rentschler said.
Visitation is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, followed by the service at 11 a.m. at Weigel Funeral Home, 980 N.W. Washington Blvd. in Hamilton. Burial will follow at Greenwood Cemetery.
Memorials may be given Hamilton Community Foundation for the Greenwood Cemetery Fund, 319 N. Third St., Hamilton, or a charity of one’s choice.