On July 2, 2013, husband, father and grandfather, Hal Welner went to sleep for the last time, leaving a lifetime of love, success, wisdom and joy.|
His story is about a brave and courageous man, who created a legacy for his family, one that will be honored and cherished as long as his memory shall live. His life exemplifies how to live and thrive in today's world. Harold Samuel Welner was born in New York city, April 13, 1933. His parents, Bertha and Abraham Welner, were Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland, who had only one child. He grew up in New York city, in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, with fond memories of seeking autographs from baseball heroes of that time with childhood friends. After graduating high school, Hal moved from the city, to The State University of New York at Cortland, to study physical education. This is the place where he met the love of his life, Cathy.
Catherine Yolanda Panto married Harold Samuel Welner on June 11, 1955. It was a union of true love, but also controversy. Cathy is Catholic and of Italian descent. Eyebrows were raised that a Catholic girl was marrying a Jewish boy, but, the two of them crossed that religious line without ever looking back.
Hal furthered his education at the University of PA, and became a physical therapist. After two trial positions in Canandaigua, N.Y., and New Bethleham, Pa., he located to Akron, Ohio, and was employed by a group of orthopedic surgeons. Eventually, Hal came to work at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron. Many years later he obtained an M.A. in Health Care Administration at Central Michigan University. The largest portion of his career was spent at CHMCA, where he advanced a one person post polio Physical Therapy Dept. to a comprehensive rehabilitation division which included: Occupational Therapy, Speech and Hearing, Social Services and Sports Medicine. As the hospital became more specialized, he was instrumental in the addition of other specialized services.
These included: Infant Therapy, Child Life, Pediatric Home Care, and Ask Children's (A parent hot line). In Hal's later years at the hospital, he executed a plan to more closely ally regional primary care physicians with CHMCA, as an affiliate network. Upon retirement from Children's Hospital, after 30 years, he entered private practice, contracting with Visiting Nurse Service to provide home physical therapy. This evolved into a fulfilling second career that lasted more than 20 years. His work was so gratifying that retirement never had any appeal.
Hal's greatest treasure was his family. Cathy, his wife of almost 60 years, has meant more to him than words can describe. She is a gifted and creative woman who has elevated his existence far beyond his own capabilities, as he had stated over the years. He has said, "There is only love and kindness in her heart." Together, they brought into the world three children, David, Sharon and Lauri. His children were raised in a home with much love, support and boundless "pearls of wisdom". Because of great family closeness, the children grew up to find their own happiness and success with spouses, Becky Welner, Fred Christie, and Paul Sandels. Finally, there are six grandchildren: Brian Culp, Lauren Welner, Jessie Culp, David Welner, Jr., Paul Sandels, Jr., and James Sandels, who were his pride and joy and he relished in mentoring and guiding them to attain their own happiness and success. Hal's hope is for them to carry their own dreams forward, which they will because of the wonderful legacy he has left. His beliefs have always been a strong force in how he has lived his life. Hal has always believed that we're greater together than we are on our own, that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. We love you Dad.
Hal's family will receive relatives and friends from 1 to 4 p.m. SATURDAY at the Billow FAIRLAWN Chapel, 85 N. Miller Rd. Private inurnment at Rose Hill Burial Park. A family celebration of his life will be held later. To share a Memory, Send a Condolence, Light a Candle, visit the Tribute Wall at www.billowfuneralhomes.com Memorials may be made to one's favorite charity.
(Billow FAIRLAWN Chapel)
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on July 4, 2013