It is with great sadness that we share the loss of longtime Kiwanis member, Dave Wilhelm. We will miss his kindness, generosity and friendship.
David Grant Wilhelm, age 69, of Marion passed peacefully into spirit on April 16, 2020 surrounded by his loving family. Dave was born August 5, 1950 to the late Herbert and Marie (Szerbiak) Wilhelm. He grew up in Massapequa, NY and attended Farmingdale High School, where he ran track, specializing in the relay. He then attended Nassau Community College and graduated from Brockport State College.
After graduation, Dave joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Hospital in Fairborn, Ohio. During his four years providing mental health services at the hospital, he also obtained a master’s degree from Wright State University and became a licensed professional clinical counselor. This experience solidified his dedication to helping others with mental and behavioral health issues.
While stationed at Wright-Patterson, Dave met his loving wife, Susan (Staub) Wilhelm an American National Red Cross social worker employed in the same hospital. They were married on April 10, 1976. A few months later, Dave completed his military service and the couple moved to Marion, Ohio where they raised a family.
Dave worked at the Marion Area Counseling Center (MACC) for the next 39 years, first as a clinical counselor and then as Associate Director. He wore many “hats” at MACC, including overseeing adult residential mental health services, case management, day treatment, Contact Careline, and addiction services. He also supervised emergency mental health services at Marion General Hospital and spent many nights performing mental health assessments in the emergency room with patients in distress. Throughout his time at MACC, Dave helped countless residents of Marion and the surrounding areas deal with subsistence abuse and mental health issues. In honor of those efforts, MACC’s men’s recovery home was named “Dave’s House” when it opened in 2015.
After retiring in 2015, Dave continued his commitment to helping the community. He began working part-time at Teaching for Change, a court-sponsored program where he taught people on probation how to make positive changes in their lives. He then joined the Outpatient Partial Hospitalization Program team at Marion General, where he continued educating and guiding patients in their struggle to improve their lives. Dave also became a member of the Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMH) and Marion’s Opiate Task Force.
Dave was very dedicated not only to his career but also to his family. When his children were young, he was a scout master for his son Ken’s boy scout troop, guiding him all the way to Eagle Scout. He even took his daughter Jennifer on a “daddy-daughter” fishing trip at the age of five so she wouldn’t feel left out. He very patiently put all the fish they caught back into the water when Jennifer worried that the fish they caught might have mommys looking for them! When his children grew, he joined his son for a portion of Ken’s hike on the Appalachian Trail and helped his daughter and her husband, Bill O’Donnell, renovate their first house.
The highlight of his life was his five-year-old grandson, Liam, whom he adored. In the last year, he taught Liam how to play checkers, not just for the fun of the game but also to teach Liam to think ahead before making decisions in life. As it turns out, Liam was an avid student who loved learning the game from Grandpa and took it very seriously.
Dave had a number of personal passions. He volunteered as a mentor with the Marion City School Mentorship Program, meeting with a middle school student and continuing the relationship into high school. He was a member of the Noon Kiwanis for many years and was known for perfecting the pancake batter every year at the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser at Tri Rivers. He was a member of the Water Song Tai Chi Club and an active member of the White Lily Spiritualist Church where he even sang in the choir on special occasions.
Dave loved the outdoors and travel; he was an avid gardener, kayaker, biker and hiker. His last adventure was a trip last fall with Sue and two close friends, Polly and David, to Yellowstone National Park. He had a list of wildlife he hoped to see, and on the last day of the visit, he was so excited to take a picture of the final animal on his list, a large elk with huge antlers!
Left to cherish his memory are Susan (wife); Kenneth (son) of Carlsbad, CA; Jennifer (daughter), Bill O’Donnell (son-in-law), and Liam O’Donnell (grandson) of Pittsburgh, PA; and Gary (Ina) Wilhelm (brother) of Riverside, Il.
Dave was truly a giver. He helped so many people make the most out of life. His family and friends will miss him greatly and always love him.
The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to The James Cancer Center, Marion General Hospital, and Ohio Health Hospice for their excellent care and compassion.
Dave’s family would like to continue his legacy and dedication to the field of mental health by making it possible for the next generation of college students to continue in his steps. Therefore, memorial contributions may be made to Marion Community Foundation, 504 South State Street, Marion, OH 43302 (or online at www.MarionCommunityFoundation.org) for the purpose of establishing a permanent named endowment fund in memory of Dave.
Graveside services followed by a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when it is safe to gather together, and will be open to the public.
Snyder Funeral Homes, Gunder/Hall Chapel is honored to serve Dave’s family. Online condolences and memories may be expressed by visiting www.SnyderFuneralHomes.com.