Ann Arbor bids adieu to colorful citizens

from Dale Leslie

Someone much smarter than I observed, "Life is stranger than fiction." That remark was confirmed in the last few days with the passing of businessman Paul Lohr and his son Fred Lohr, coincidentally within hours of each other, and then later Fred Mammel, former City utilities head for at least two decades, and a fellow Kiwanian of Paul's, died at Arbor Hospice. Adding to the irony of these real-life events, all three final observances were held at approximately the same time on Monday, March 10th.

The Lohrs are pure-bred Ann Arborites. Undoubtedly, you know or know of at least one family member. The working Lohr farm was on Lohr Road near the Ann Arbor Airport where Paul caught the bug for flying. Ann Arbor Implement Company- known to many locals as Ann Arbor Imp-ment- saw the same family ownership over three generations, first by Grandpa Ernest Lohr- then son Paul Lohr-and Grandson Fred Lohr. (It was Fred- fighting illness for many years- who passed away after hearing of his dad's death.) Paul Lohr loved to show anyone the former wine cellars, spreading deep under their store at First Street and Liberty. His joy was the instruction of pilot dare devils in the art of stunt flying, including Bob Barden, Sr., whose family owns the Ann Arbor Area Credit Bureau. Eddie "The Grip" Green would stand on the wing of Barden's plane high-above the Ann Arbor countryside, after climbing from the back seat of a speeding convertible. Fortunately, Eddie never lost it. His grip, that is!

My favorite story about Fred Mammel occurred when he and his wife Betty Mammel moved to Chelsea. Fred wasn't about to alter his life-long disposition and decline a favor when asked. So, as the village election for Treasurer evolved into a limited field, Fred was persuaded to run as a long-shot, write-in candidate. You guessed it! Fred won- with 18 votes- and served with honor and distinction. He and Betty faced life's toughest challenges when they lost their oldest son, Tom, to an automobile accident. And then Betty fell victim to a protracted illness and Fred was never far from her side. Fred and Betty's most admirable quality were their friendships with people of all ages, all backgrounds, and from every ethnic group imaginable. And their dedication to humanitarian causes which were numerous as you will see below. ~Dale