Joseph Lloyd Retzler

Birth Date: 
Saturday, March 17, 1928
Date of Passing: 
Saturday, December 2, 2017

WOOSTER - Joseph Lloyd Retzler, 89, peacefully passed away on December 2, 2017, at his home in Wooster, Ohio.

Joe was born March 17, 1928, Saint Patrick’s Day, in his parents’ Market Street home in Wooster, to Herman Lloyd Retzler and Celia (Pomeroy) Retzler. He was the third of four children. As a child Joe, and his younger brother Ed, loved playing baseball in their backyard, roller skating and biking around town, and playing with the family dog Pepper. Visiting the penny candy counter at the family grocery store (Pomeroy and Retzler) on Liberty Street was another favorite pastime. In the winter, playing with toy soldiers and electric trains and sledding were Joe’s passions. Music was important in Joe’s family, and everyone, including Joe, played an instrument. Joe played both flute and piccolo in the Wooster High School Band. Joe also put his writing talent to work as Editor of The General, the high school newspaper.

Joe graduated from Wooster High School in 1946 and from The College of Wooster in 1950. At Wooster College he majored in English, was a member of 4th Section, and played flute in the Wooster Symphony Orchestra. During the summers, Joe worked a variety of jobs at the “Agricultural Experiment Station” (aka OARDC) such as cutting wheat and hoeing corn. After graduating college, Joe was drafted into the Army and sent to Camp Atterbury (Edinburgh, Indiana) to join a group of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen who had been federalized for the Korean conflict. It was there that he answered an announcement to audition for the 28th Infantry Division Band. Joe was selected to play flute and piccolo and for the next two years was part of this band, which entertained troops stationed near Stuttgart, Germany.

Upon completion of his military service, Joe attended Columbia University in New York City earning an M.B.A. in International Trade.

Joe and Susan Courtney Shera were married on July 28, 1956 in Hackensack, New Jersey and settled in Wooster. Joe joined his parents in operating Retzler Hardware on North Walnut Street, becoming President of the business in 1963.

Joe and Sue had five children, Courtney (John Bean), Jim (Peggy), Ed (Robin), David (Aimee), and Ross. Joe was an avid supporter of all his children’s endeavors. Joe and Sue were members of the original group of parents who successfully lobbied the Wooster City School system to bring soccer to Wooster High School.

Joe’s interest in trains and travel continued his entire life. In the summer of 1969, the last year passenger trains stopped in Wooster, Joe took his family on a cross country train trip starting in Wooster and ending in Los Angeles. Another highlight for him was attending the auction of artifacts from the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Philadelphia.

Joe was also a history buff. From the time he was a little boy, he was a regular visitor to what would become the Wayne County Historical Society. He loved learning about how people lived in “the olden days.” You could often find him searching old maps and atlases of Wayne County, studying tools and gadgets, admiring the workmanship of a locally made toy, brick, or piece of furniture. Joe served as president of the Wayne County Historical Society and in his retirement became a docent giving tours to visiting schoolchildren. 

Many people knew Joe through the hardware store. Joe loved spending time with the people who came into the store. Whether you needed a key cut or a lamp rewired, advice about paint, or just wanted to talk about the weather, Joe had time for you. He loved nothing more than searching for that hard-to-find item a customer needed. He believed the folks who came into the store were more than shoppers, they were neighbors. Joe oversaw two store expansions and the affiliation with Cotter and Company’s True Value Hardware Stores.

Joe was a past-President of the Ohio Hardware Association and a staunch supporter of the Wooster Chamber of Commerce. He was named to the Chamber’s Wall of Fame in 1995. Joe worked hard to keep Wooster’s downtown a vital and lively center for the community. He supported efforts such as Dollar Days, Music-on-the-Square, and Main Street Wooster. Joe also loved and never missed The Wayne County Fair. He always made a point to stop at the Lerch’s Doughnut Stand and was known for sending boxes of doughnuts across the country to his children, so they could enjoy a bit of the fair. 

He was a member of First Presbyterian Church. Joe served on the City of Wooster Civil Service Commission and the Wooster Cemetery Association. He was a past Director of Wayne Savings Community Bank and on the board of the American Red Cross. A lifelong Democrat, Joe followed in the footsteps of his father and received the Old Hickory Award in 2007 from the Wayne County Democratic Club.

Following several years as a member of 20-30 Club, Rotary International became an important part of Joe’s life. His children always looked forward to Monday suppers where he would share the corny joke he had learned at the luncheon meeting and talk about the interesting speaker of the day. During College of Wooster basketball season, Joe could be found in his favorite seat rooting for the team with other Downtown Rebounders.

Joe retired from the Hardware Business in 2003, but he did not slow down. Instead he used his time to audit classes at the College of Wooster, take acting and dance classes at Wayne Center for the Arts, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, attend Columbus Crew games and Cleveland Symphony concerts, participate in CrossFit Boot Camps, drive his VW Beetle around town, and crank out homemade ice cream!

In addition to their five children, Joe is survived by grandchildren, Joshua (Bethany), Christopher (Sharon), Andrew, Beckham, Keegan, Cole, Harry, and Emmy Retzler, Sophie and Natalie Bean; brother Edgar and sister-in-law Shirley, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, and siblings Celia Gates and Harold Retzler.

A private family burial will take place. There will be a celebration of Joe’s life, for community well wishers, in the near future.

McIntire, Bradham, & Sleek Funeral Home is assisting the family. Online condolences may be left for the family at

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to The Wayne County Historical Society, 546 Bowman St., Wooster, OH 44691; LifeCare Hospice of Wayne and Holmes Counties, 1900 Akron Rd., Wooster, OH 44691; or the Viola Startzman Clinic, 1874 Cleveland Rd., Wooster, OH 44691.




Memorial Contributions: 

Wayne Co. Historical Society, 546 Bowman St., Wooster, OH 44691 or LifeCare Hospice, 1900 Akron Rd., Wooster, OH 44691 or Viola Startzman Clinic, 1874 Cleveland Rd., Wooster, OH 44691


No calling hours


Private family service will be held


As a young boy in the late 1950's, I remember shopping at Mr Retzler's Hardware store. I was looking for a part to repair my 1930's Schwinn bicycle. Mr Retzler spent significant time and interest in assisting me to find an appropriate part. He obviously left a very lasting positive impression upon me. My condolences to his family.

A kinder man I've never known. My condolences.

We treasure many fine memories of experiences shared with Joe and Sue as our families grew up together in the 1960's and 70's. We recall Easter egg hunts in the Retzer's yard as well as school and church activities. Joe and I were fellow members in Rotary, the YMCA, and the Downtown Rebounders. Retzler Hardware was my favorite shopping destination--on rare occasions when I couldn't find what I needed, Joe would get it for me. He was a true friend. Our condolences to all the Retzler family.

I mostly got to know Mr. Retzler through my volunteer work at Local Roots Market. Joe would come in almost every Friday for coffee and a pastry. He was always so friendly to all and supportive of the mission of Local Roots. I'll miss his smile and weekly greeting!

Joe and I were classmates at Wooster schools, and we're close friends during that time.We cooperated on reunions of the class of 1946. Joe was wonderful to work with during all that time.I appreciate very much just knowing him and working with him through the years.

There have been many men in Wayne County that I have known,but none finer than your father.You can be very proud of all his accomplishments and the kind of man he was.You will all be in my prayers and thoughts as you mourn the loss of your father.Thank you Jim for following so close in your fathers footsteps.Your fathers friendship and yours has always meant a lot to me.

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