AMHERST - Robert J. VanNiel Sr., 81 years of age, a lifetime resident of Amherst, passed away early Sunday morning, January 12, 2014, at his home, surrounded by the family that treasured him.
Bob was born May 9, 1932, in the family home on Dewey Road in Amherst. He graduated from Amherst High School's Class of 1951, lettering in four sports. As a sophomore in high school, Bob joined the National Guard and upon graduation he served his country with distinction as an artillery instructor and chaplain's assistant during the Korean Conflict in the U.S. Army.
Bob returned home to work for the Ford Motor Company in Lorain for 37 years, retiring as a maintenance welder in 1991. He was a member U.A.W. Local #425, an active member of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Amherst and belonged to the Amherst chapter of the Knights of Columbus, serving as treasurer for 20 years. Bob enjoyed being outdoors, fishing, hunting and was an excellent marksman. He also enjoyed archery, bowling, woodworking, winemaking and traveling. Bob with his wife, Joan and family summered on Pelee Island. After his retirement, they wintered in Florida.
Beyond his work and community service, Bob was first and foremost a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Joan V. (nee Szabo); son, Robert J. (Theresa Lynn "Terri") VanNiel II of Amherst; daughters, Marybeth "Betsy" Dunford of Strongsville, Jane (Mark) Hunter of Amherst, Carolyn VanNiel of Los Gatos, California, Connie (James) Sexton of Wellington and Rosemary (David) Bouton of Avon; 12 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; brother, Wayne (Jackie) VanNiel; and sisters, Regina (Fred) Dalzell, Joan (Martin) Fitch and Marilyn (Herb) Lamprecht, all of Amherst.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Lucy VanNiel (nee Gillis); and beloved brother, Leonard.
Friends may call at the Hempel Funeral Home; 373 Cleveland Ave., Amherst, Tuesday, January 14, 2014, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. The Rosary will be recited at 8 p.m., led by the Knights of Columbus.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Saint Joseph Catholic Church; 200 St. Joseph Dr., Amherst, Wednesday, January 15, at 1 p.m. The Rev. Fr. Lawrence Martello, pastor, will officiate. Burial will follow at Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Amherst.
The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Saint Joseph Church Endowment Fund, 200 Saint Joseph Dr., Amherst, OH 44001.
Additional information and online register book are available at www.hempelfuneralhome.com.
Hempel Funeral Home - Amherst
373 Cleveland Avenue Amherst, OH 44001
Published in www.morningjournal.com on Jan. 13, 2014