(NEWS ARTICLE) Norman E. McKenna, a Toledo native and World War II veteran whose career as a sales manager for an office supply company was leavened by his ability to entertain, died Saturday at Southwest General hospital in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. He was 89.
Mr. McKenna, who split his time between Toledo and Middleburg Heights, died of leukemia, said his daughter Lynn Hoover. He was given a diagnosis of leukemia's precursor several years ago. Leukemia was discovered during a follow-up visit after hernia surgery in July, his daughter said.
His career with Pitney-Bowes Inc. began in 1951 in Toledo as a salesman. He rose to managerial postings in Fort Wayne, Ind., Lansing, Cleveland, and Connecticut, where he was general manager. He returned to Toledo and in his last 18 years was branch regional manager. He retired in 1990 as national sales director.
Mrs. Hoover said her father continued working for Pitney-Bowes as a trainer until last year, when his illness took a toll on his health and energy. "When he retired from management in 1990, he elected to stay and do sales training."
He kept residences in Toledo and in the Cleveland suburb. When his cancer became more pronounced, he chose to stay in Middleburg Heights for treatment.
He was cared for there by a longtime friend, Lenore Burgess, his daughter said.
Mr. McKenna was a natural entertainer and used his skills to liven up training and sales meetings, which he conducted across the nation. He later narrowed his territory to four states.
He began entertaining in college, including a comedy routine, and played some piano, but his primary skill was singing. He'd entertain diners at restaurants, particularly Van's Colonial House steak restaurant in Toledo before it closed. He was also a feature at Cleveland establishments, Mrs. Hoover said.
Born Jan. 17, 1923, he was a 1941 graduate of Scott High School. After graduation, Mr. McKenna entered the Army and became an infantryman. He served in Germany and was in Nuremburg when World War II ended. He left as a battalion sergeant major, a senior noncommissioned rank.
"He was very proud of his service," his daughter said.
He wore his WWII hat nearly everywhere and was pleased when people approached to thank him for his military service, she said.
He was a charter member of the D-Day Memorial Museum in New Orleans and of the WWII Army Memorial, she said.
Mr. McKenna attended the University of Toledo, graduating in 1948, and was vice president of the alumni association.
He met his wife, Mary, when she was a counselor for World War II vets at the university. They married June 18, 1950; she died in 2005.
His business career began in 1948 when he joined UARCO Business Forms as salesman. He advanced to national sales trainer in Chicago and Toledo before joining Pitney-Bowes. Although work and training were his passions, he enjoyed playing golf, frequently at Spuyten Duyval Golf Club. He was not a good putter. That source of frustration nearly became the inspiration for a book he never wrote, How to Approach Your 4th Putt with Confidence.
Mr. McKenna is survived by daughters Lynn Hoover and Nancy Herman.
Visitation is to be from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Foth-Dorfmeye Mortuary, 3815 Sylvania Ave., where the funeral is to be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Memorials are suggested to any cancer organization.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.
Published in Toledo Blade on Nov. 19, 2012