Wayne George Buettner, 82, in the care of his daughter and son-in-law, entered peacefully into eternal life on March 12, 2021, after a long, hard-fought battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He entered into his final days with complete trust in the Lord. Throughout his illness he remained strong and never complained or asked for help. He didn’t lose his battle with cancer but rather won his fight, triumphantly, vanquishing the disease by living his days with a positive attitude, and in hope and faith.
Born on February 28, 1939, in Cleveland, OH, to the late Herbert Buettner and Elsie Brezina (nee Pearce), he was preceded in death by his dear sister Verna Gapko Dorn and first wife Barb J. Ollis (nee Chomik). He leaves to cherish his memory son Brian (Jen), daughter Justine (Bob) Fiehn, brother Herbert (Debbie) Buettner, grandchildren Zoe and Nathan, Jillian DeCapio Buettner (nee Linx), loving nieces and nephews, and 3 very special grandpups.
Wayne was a 1957 graduate of Parma High School. He enjoyed racing cars and cherished his ’59 Chevy convertible and ’58 Harley Davidson of which he saved the original invoices. He won 24 trophies drag racing and even broke a speed record at 122 m.p.h. Back in the day, the police would be waiting at his house to hand him speeding tickets, which he also saved, since they couldn’t catch him on the road!
His work life began as a boy with the largest paper route in Parma for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He then worked at the Chevy Plant until the (Eisenhower) recession in 1958, then as a gas station mechanic until drafted into the U.S. Army. From 1961-1964 he served his country with honor (SP5 E5) stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. During that time, he toured many European countries including Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Greece. A detour on his long-awaited return home included a visit to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
His work career transitioned from military to the auto industry working at the Allison Tank Plant of General Motors (former I-X Center) machining every part of the tank except the gun barrel. He then worked at Hobart as an appliance repairman becoming their #1 serviceman within 7 months. He worked at Fisher Body in Elyria as a journeyman pipefitter after 800 hours of apprenticeship. When this plant closed in ’88, he went to the Chevy Plant where he worked until he retired. Throughout his 37-year career in the auto industry, he strived to better himself by earning certificates in air conditioning, woodworking, small engine repair, electricity and electronics, among others. His sense of hard work and love of all things mechanical were inspired at his grandparents’ 110-acre farm in Norwalk, OH, where, as a child, he spent summers away from home while his parents focused on his sister’s recovery from rheumatic fever.
He enjoyed gardening, photography, and attending all his children’s sporting and extra-curricular events (even dance recitals), that is, when he wasn’t working overtime at his job. He was never late for an event or family function, nor was he ever on time…he was always early! Only the brave ventured to park a foreign-made car in his driveway. He and his golf buddies later shared a trailer in St. Petersburg, FL, dubbed the “Money Pit.” He enjoyed his 7-mile walk on the beach each morning and embraced his friend’s mantra “Cheap is good, free is better.” While in FL, he enjoyed attending national blues festivals and fine arts festivals (especially Tarpon Springs). He was an avid reader and spent the rest of his time woodworking. His garage served as a personal hardware store for his friends and family, with every nut, bolt, and screw known to mankind neatly organized in mason jars or coffee cans. Woodworking became his passion. He could make anything found in a woodworker’s magazine. And he never made just one. He earned the title “Wayne The Handyman” earnestly. He could fix everything--with perfection and a level! And for each tool he had, he had a backup to a backup to a backup. He enjoyed bargain shopping at the Hartville Flea Market for tools he most likely already had. “Papa” thoroughly enjoyed the time spent planning and teaching his grandson the proper way to use tools as they completed special woodworking projects together. There was no guessing what gift his grandson would receive for his birthdays… homemade toolboxes full of more tools!
He faced his valiant battle against NHL with courage, grace and dignity. He embraced life and love and inspired everyone who knew him, especially his daughter. He brought love, joy, and friendship to all. He was devoted to his family and special life-long friends Tim Bibro; Jon Jackson, his co-worker, woodworking and fishing buddy; and Bob Thorsell who was always his inspiration. He was an excellent listener, but when he spoke, he spoke words of wisdom, understanding, compassion, and pure love. The last lesson he taught his family is how to pass onto our next life with grace, dignity, peace, and calmness. He left us with a final gift, a miracle of a beautiful, everlasting smile. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.
The family expresses its gratitude to Dr. Brad Pohlman and staff at the Cleveland Clinic who devoted their expertise and heartfelt compassion to us over the last 16 years.
Pastor Ryan Rodeman will conduct a celebration of life Wednesday, March 24 at 11 AM at Grace Church, Bath Campus, 754 Ghent Road, Fairlawn, OH 44333. Friends may call March 24, 9:30 – 11:00 AM at the church or visit with family after the service. The church is set up for adequate social distancing between family groups. (Interment with military honors to be held at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery at a later date.)
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to one of the two organizations that were instrumental to both Wayne and his family: Cleveland Clinic Hospice, 6801 Brecksville Rd., Ste. 10, Independence, OH 44131, or Grace Church, Bath Campus.
Services in care of The Billow Funeral Homes and Crematory, Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road Akron, OH 44333.
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