'Mr. Habitat' honored for service

HURON A man who has earned the nickname "Mr. Habitat" truly gives from the heart, friends
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



A man who has earned the nickname "Mr. Habitat" truly gives from the heart, friends say.

Bob Hemminger of Huron has been a Habitat for Humanity volunteer for more than 15 years and keeps going strong -- even at age 88.

"If he's trying to get somewhere, you have to walk fast to catch up with him," said his daughter Karen Langan, 44, also of Huron. "He works so hard, if he stops working it hurts."

Langan is one of Hemminger's eight children. Hemminger retired as a grain farmer about 15 years ago, but continues to keep himself busy by woodworking, vegetable gardening, donating to charities and regularly attending services at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Huron.

"He really didn't stop (working); he just transferred his energy somewhere else," Langan said.

Even though Hemminger's wife of 61 years, Melba, passed away in September, he keeps active and tries to think positive, Langan said.

"It's not surprising at all. There are few people cut out like him," she said. "He has always been inspiriting, optimistic and generous."

Hemminger is an honorary board member for Firelands Habitat for Humanity, according to Linda Francisco, executive director of the local chapter. He was board president in 1992.

"Bob is one of those guys that truly does Habitat from his heart," Francisco said. "(He) built each one of their homes as if he was building his own home."

Other Habitat for Humanity volunteers agree. Lynn Szabo, board president, met Hemminger nine years ago.

"He is the ideal Habitat person," he said. "I've never heard him say a harsh word about anyone."

Just this month Hemminger donated a building and land to the organization. He and his late wife were honored for the donation, a building now called "The Bob and Melba Hemminger Habitat Workshop."

Jim Tibboles, who nominated Hemminger for the 2007 Sandusky Register Award, said Hemminger is "first on the job and last to leave."

"We refer to him as 'Mr. Habitat' because he is almost always at the work site," Szabo said. "He has done everything in the organization and he's done it for so many years."