Ex-mayor Bernie Hohman dies

A former Tiffin mayor, city council member and educator who left his mark on the city with more than 40 years of service died Friday.

According to an obituary, Bernie Hohman died at his home. 

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said Hohman’s leadership and legacy will live on for a long time in the community.

“He really was a leader by building bridges and not putting up walls,” he said. “His leadership is definitely going to be missed. He will forever be remembered as being progressive and forward-thinking for the community.”

Montz said when he thinks of Hohman, who defeated an 18-year-old Montz in the 2003 mayoral race, he thinks of a leader who had passion for Tiffin and worked to build consensus.

“Those are the three things that come to mind when I think of Bernie,” he said. “In many ways, we are going to miss all three of those things.”

Montz said Hohman was a “class act” during the 2003 campaign.

“He easily could have torn me apart, as a first-time person running for office, still being in high school and being 17 for most of that campaign,” he said. “He treated me as an equal and as an adult. It gave me instant respect for him. You don’t see that in politics in this day and age.”

Councilman Steve Lepard said he was on council while Hohman was mayor

“Bernie was not only a great mayor, but he was a great person,” he said. “He was a great leader for the city. He saw the good in people.”

Hohman’s service didn’t stop after holding several elected city government positions. He continued to volunteer on city boards, including the planning commission.

Councilman Ben Gillig said Hohman’s continued dedication to service is one of many things that earns him respect.

“Even when he stepped out of the limelight, he still helped. He always kept serving the city, even when he did not have to,” he said.

Councilman Rich Focht said he has a lot of admiration for Hohman.

“Bernie was a great thinker, he was a really smart guy. He cared about other people, he was honest and he worked hard,” he said. “He went out and made things happen.”

Focht credited Hohman with decisions that led to installing infrastructure on West Market Street.

“You look now, all the development that’s taken place out there on West Market Street, that’s because we have the infrastructure out there and Bernie was responsible for that,” he said.

Focht said Hohman also helped bring several Japanese businesses to Tiffin by facing his fear of flying and taking a business trip in the country.

“Bernie had this terrible fear of flying, there was no way he was getting on an airplane and going,” he said. “He grew up in Bascom and made it all the way to Tiffin … going to Japan was about like going to the moon.”

Focht said after about a year, Hohman overcame his fear and took the trip.

“That was really to his credit,” he said. “He did it because he knew it was important to the community. He put fear aside and put the community first.”

Gillig said he believes Hohman set the stage for many current successes.

“It starts with some of the things he put in place during his 10 years as mayor,” he said. “It’s all part of the groundwork he laid. We’re going to continue to reap the benefits of all his service to the community for a long time to come.”

Montz agreed.

“His legacy for Tiffin, overall, will be someone who was able to set the city up for immense success down the road,” he said.

Focht said Hohman also improved the city as an educator in Tiffin City Schools. He said Hohman was a math teacher at the junior high and high school level.

“He was respected by his colleagues and his students as well,” he said. “You never heard anything about Bernie, he was just a good guy.”

Gillig said he had Hohman as a keyboard instructor in school.

“I always enjoyed having him as a teacher, he was straight and to the point, but you learned,” he said, adding he always respected Hohman’s integrity as a politician.

Council President Mark Hayes said the loss of Hohman is “a wound for the city and for the public school system.”

Hayes said he came into Hohman’s office once because he was concerned about an issue.

“He told me, ‘Hayes, all you’ve got to do is do the right thing,'” he said. “I’ve passed that on to my kids. I mean, it’s a great mantra to live by. Do the right thing. How hard is that to do the right thing?”

Hayes said Hohman’s legacy is of a man who always tried to do the right thing.

“He cared about the city and the residents more than anything else,” he said.

Focht agreed.

“Bernie always tried to do the right thing, he was one of the most honest guys I’ve ever met,” he said. “We are much better off because Bernie Hohman was part of our community and held the positions he did.”

Hayes said all Tiffin residents should aspire to be like Hohman.

“If we aspire to be like him, the city as a whole will be greater,” he said.