Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hal Wehling - Celebration of Life

Our good friend, Hal Wehling passed away last week, July 25, in The Villages, FL. Vi and I will remember him fondly as a loving life partner with Sandy Rib, and as a great entrepreneur and collector.


Although Hal was not Jewish, he joined Temple Shalom with Sandy.

We'll remember him as they attended events with us and all our Jewish friends. And how great they looked in the Temple Shalom Photo Directory published in 2010

Anyone who has been to Sandy and Hal's home knows it was always warm, friendly and inviting, full of great food and fine conversation.


I particularly enjoyed Hal's description of how he got into the Authentic English Fish and Chips business, founding a very successful chain of Squire Jack's shops in Cincinnati.  A Google search came up with a wonderful story about it from the August 1973 issue of Cincinnati Magazine. You can access it by clicking here and scrolling to page 88 and then page 135.
The story recounts how Hal and his wife Chris enjoyed inexpensive fish and chips, wrapped in newspaper, when they were young American students in London in 1952. How Hal rose through the ranks at Federated's Rike's Department Store in Dayton and their headquarters in Cincinnati, to manager of their merchandising information systems to implement computer decision-aiding.

In 1969, following the example of the spectacular success of Col. Sanders with fast-food chicken, they decided to follow suit with fish and chips. They drew upon their personal experiences in London, as well as some ideas from H. Salt fish and chips in California, and similar outlets in Miami.

By 1973, they had 16 stores in Cincinnati, employing 120 people, and grossing over $125 M. Subsequently, the chain grew to 32 stores in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan.

We'll remember his excitement and deep knowledge as he shared memories of his entrepreneurial success every time consume fish and chips! 


Another highlight of a visit to Hal and Sandy' home is the proliferation of clocks, watches, scrimshaw and automobile-related collectibles. Hal's penchant for collecting, and his joy in describing his treasures and sharing them with visitors, goes back at least as far as 1973. The fore-mentioned magazine story mentions ten antique automobiles and 130 clocks in their Cincinnati homes!

Only a couple of antique cars were in Hal and Sandy's Florida home last time I had a chance to look, but there are plenty of clocks, as well as an impressive collection of scrimshaw and artwork. Hal loved to describe these items and was proud of his ability to repair their intricate insides.

We'll remember his expertise and devotion to his collectibles, and his joy in sharing them with us.


A couple years ago, Hal was diagnosed with Parkinson's and he and Sandy asked me for advice because they knew I had been diagnosed with the disease in 2012 (though I probably had had it for a year or two before diagnosis). I told Hal that Parkinson's was a progressive, incurable, degenerative disease but that it could be ameliorated with medication (dopamine) and exercise. I introduced them to Gary Ingram's wonderful Parkinson Fight Club here in The Villages, where we confront the disease by drumming (with drumsticks on the table), by exercising to music, and by sharing information and ideas. We have "SECs" every day - Socialize, Exercise, and Communicate!

Hal became a regular participant in our support group meetings and Sandy joined the  caregivers group.

We'll remember them moving to the music and supporting the others in our mutual support group.


What turned out to be our final conversation took place a few weeks before he passed away. It was in Hals room at the Freedom Pointe nursing and rehab facility. Vi and I had a nice visit with Hal and Sandy that Sunday afternoon.

We'll remember him sitting in a chair, looking good, and, clear of mind, talking to us like the Hal we've known for a decade.


A celebration of life service is scheduled for 2:30PM this Sunday at the Lake Miona Recreation Center for Hal's relatives and many friends. Sandy, our good friend Barb Hays (and others I don't know) are organizing the event and I look forward to attending.

[ADDED 31 Jul] Over 150 people  attended the very well-run and successful (and fun) Celebration of Life for Hal Wehling. THANKS to Sandy and Barb and all the others who organized the event! It was a pleasure to meet and hear from Sandy's son Michael Rib and Hal's daughter Susan Jamerson and his son Bruce Wehling. Other speakers included Sandy, Maggie Dick (Villages Philharmonic), and even me (representing our common association with Temple Shalom and the Parkinson Fight Club). Special highlights were two beautifully-performed musical selections by grandson Aaron Rib on the flute.

Hal lived a wonderfully productive life, contributing what we hear was excellent authentic English fish and chips, and so much more to his family, his life partner Sandy, and so many friends.

We'll remember and celebrate Hal's example of a life well lived.

Ira Glickstein