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April 25, 2014

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Todd Hafner, 1962-2012

Bluffton University alumnus Todd Hafner, 49, owner of a speciality business that made wood cases and stands and who crafted a cross in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Toledo Catholic Diocese, died Monday, April 23, 2012, in Mercy St. Anne Hospital.

His wife, Lorie, said he was diagnosed March 23 with pancreatic cancer and recently began chemotherapy treatments. However, he died of complications from a blood clot, she said.

Mr. Hafner started Hafner's Hardwood Connections in the garage of his Point Place home in 1994. Among the company's products are cases and stands to display flags presented at veterans' funerals and registry holders used for visitations at funeral homes.

Mrs. Hafner said the business grew out of the skill and interest in woodworking her husband developed while growing up in Point Place.

"He was always using hammers, taking extra nails, spare wood, and anything he could get his hands on to build anything. He had a knack for it," she said.

He was a supervisor at Johns Manville near Waterville before going into business for himself.

A lifelong member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Point Place, Mr. Hafner attended its grade school and Central Catholic High School, where he excelled in football.

As a sophomore, he was a member of the team that made it to the state championship against Cincinnati Moeller. A 1980 graduate, he was inducted into the school's Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Mr. Hafner continued playing football at Bluffton College, from which he graduated in 1984 with a degree in marine biology. He married the former Lorie Hreben on May 5, 1991.

Mr. Hafner donated his time, energy, and skills for many projects at his high school and at churches and buildings in the diocese.

With an idea generated by Msgr. Michael Billian, he designed and built the Centenary Cross used in 2010 to celebrate the diocese's centennial. The cross, made of Honduran mahogany, featured laser-engraved symbols of the four Gospel writers. At its center is a tower from the Toledo diocese's coat of arms.

Blessed by Bishop Leonard Blair, the cross traveled to all 128 parishes and religious institutions in the 19-county diocese until it reached a permanent home in St. Francis de Sales Chapel in Toledo.

The craftsmanship of Mr. Hafner can also be viewed in wall signs, nameplates, and plaques in the Diocese of Toledo's Catholic Center at 1933 Spielbusch Ave. and at Central Catholic High School, where he created and built the football lockers in Gallagher Stadium.

Mike Boyle, the high school's operations director, who coached Mr. Hafner in high school, said he also built conference room tables, plaques, and signs throughout the building.

"He really loved the school," Mr. Boyle said. "No matter what I asked of him, he would do it. He would drop everything, come over, and help."

Mr. Hafner coached the CYO fifth and sixth grade football team at St. John the Baptist School from the 1980s into the early 1990s, winning the Toy Bowl championship at least twice, and was awarded the Adult Contributor Award in 1992.

Surviving are his wife, Lorie, daughters, Audrie and Madilyn, son, Lukas, parents, Robert and Arlene Hafner, sisters Michelle White and Jaynee Meisler, and brothers, Robert, Gary, and Tim Hafner.

The funeral Mass was Saturday in St. John the Baptist Church. The family requests tributes to the Todd Hafner Benefit Fund at any Fifth Third Bank or St. John the Baptist.

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