President of Dayton manufacturer Norwood Medical dies at 89

Norwood Medical’s large campus looks to grow again. ARCHIVE

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Norwood Medical’s large campus looks to grow again. ARCHIVE

President of family-owned company had 71-year career

Kenneth J. Hemmelgarn, president of Norwood Medical, died Dec. 5 at the age of 89.

He died peacefully in his home surrounded by family, his obituary says.

Hemmelgarn joined Norwood Tool Co. in 1950 as an apprentice toolmaker, and he became shop foreman in 1962, his obituary says. He served as company president from 1981 until his death.

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Kenneth Hemmelgarn

Kenneth Hemmelgarn

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Kenneth Hemmelgarn

Chris Jones, Norwood director of operations, said Tuesday that Hemmelgarn visited the company’s shop floor quite often, as recently as last month. He retained an office at the Winners Circle-based business.

“There’s nothing better he loved than coming in to work,” Jones said. “He loved seeing people here, he loved talking to people. His health wasn’t that good near the end, but he still wanted to be on the shop floor, seeing what was going on.”

“This was his life’s passion,” Jones added.

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“His pioneering work on surgical stapling devices in the 1980s is the foundation of his company’s success today,” his obituary says.

The Norwood story has been one of strong growth in recent years.

Jones told the Dayton Daily News in 2017 that the medical device manufacturer’s more than 1,000 employees worked then in eight buildings, with work at the time starting on a ninth building — with plans to hire 40 more employees.

“We’re hiring all the time,” Jones said in 2017. “We’re constantly hiring. We believe in steady growth.”

Earlier this year, Norwood Medical received zoning approval to move forward with constructing a new, 33,120-square-foot building near its main campus in the McCook Field neighborhood.

The company said it planned to invest $4.5 million to $23 million into the facility, between new construction, equipment, machinery and inventory. About 40 new jobs were planned with this most recent expansion.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Hemmelgarn will be held at Holy Angels Church at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, followed by burial at Calvary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Hemmelgarn’s memory to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton or Chaminade Julienne High School Tuition Assistance Fund.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (, the obituary asks.

Hemmelgarn was born in Dayton on Jan. 31, 1932, to the late Norbert T. and Katheryn P. (Saalman) Hemmelgarn. He was preceded in death by sister Martha Argabright, and is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary Jane Hemmelgarn; his brother, Carl; children, Kenneth Jr. (Terri), Mary (Charles) Leach, Brian (Christine) and Joseph; stepchildren Cathy (Rick) Hartigan, Chris (Pilar) Noland, Rob (Abigail) Noland and Amy Noland; 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

He graduated from Chaminade High School in 1950, and went on to earn an engineering degree from the University of Dayton.

He served in the Air Force and was stationed in the Philippines during the Korean War.

A devout Catholic, he was a member of Precious Blood, Holy Angels and St. Christopher Parishes, and the Knights of Columbus.

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