Saul Shuller

When someone lives to 95, people tend to marvel about their still-keen mind, their remaining agility.

The way Saul Shuller lived his longer-than-most-people's life was really something.

He swore by Vitamin E, never showed a bad attitude and believed crossword puzzles kept his mind fresh. He was in his 80s when he taught himself to use a computer, which he then used to teach himself to play bridge. He loaded classical music onto his iPad. He complained almost never - except about traffic on Interstate 75.

Instead of counting sheep when he couldn't fall asleep, the former piano student at the College Conservatory of Music counted Russian composers. Not long ago, he played Rachmaninov on the lobby piano at Cedar Village, the Mason nursing home where he recently stayed for rehabilitation after a fall.

Mr. Shuller quoted Shakespeare - something his children didn't even know he knew - on his deathbed.

He will be remembered by many as one of the Shullers who ran Shuller's Wigwam, the once-popular restaurant in College Hill. Mr. Shuller left the University of Cincinnati and his studies in piano and electrical engineering to help his father run the restaurant. (The restaurant lasted eight decades before closing in 2000 and was leveled in 2006).

"He just made life joyous," said his daughter, Barbara Hahn of Indian Hill. "He liked to tinker. He loved electronics. He was a comedian and a storyteller par excellence. You couldn't ask him a question and get a one-word answer. He'd say, 'Let me tell you a story about that."

Mr. Shuller died Sunday.

Accepting that the end was near, the funny grandfather and great-grandfather said earlier in the day there was an upside to death: at least he wouldn't have to watch another Bengals loss. He lived on his own in Amberley Village until this spring, but his health declined since. He was hospitalized recently and spent his last few days at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash.

Both Hahn and her brother, Mel Shuller of Montgomery, spoke about how much their father loved their mother, Lillian, who died in 1993. They met while both were vacationing in Florida in the summer of 1941. He proposed three days later and they married within months.

Mr. Shuller then enlisted in the military after the Pearl Harbor attack that December. His favorite story from his time in the South Pacific: He once got to play piano with Irving Berlin during a USO show.

After Mrs. Shuller passed, Mr. Shuller got plenty of attention from widowed ladies, his son said. But Mr. Shuller told them their mother was the love of his life and after 52 years with her he just couldn't possibly imagine wanting to be with anyone else.

"He wore his wedding ring until the end," his son said.

Mr. Shuller was also a big fan of all sports. The family supported the Cincinnati Royals, a former NBA franchise, with an annual party at the Wigwam. He loved UC sports, particularly basketball, and was a generous supporter.

Other survivors include a brother, Leo Shuller of Montgomery, with whom he ran the Wigwam for years; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services have been held. Mr. Shuller was buried in the Adath Israel Cemetery in Price Hill. His family got a laugh on the way there - the funeral procession got stuck in I-75 traffic. They knew Mr. Shuller would be watching, and grumbling about it one last time.

Memorials: Hospice of Cincinnati, 4360 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242; Adath Israel Synagogue, 3201 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236; or the Jewish Community Center, 8485 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236.

Written by Jane Prendergast |">

Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer from Sept. 22 to Sept. 23, 2011