Wilfried “Willy” Walter Warner Hoffmannbeck died Wednesday, November 3, 2021, at the age of 85, in Sandusky, Ohio. His battle with serious medical issues in recent years showed his courage, stubbornness, and charm as he fought and joked until he passed.
Born in Jena, Thuringia, Germany, Willy began baking trade school at the age of fourteen and went on to apprentice for three years under numerous professionals in East Germany before escaping to West Germany where he honed a skillset that would lead him to employment, friendships, family, and relationships that would last a lifetime.
On Feb. 26, 1958, Willy left from Frankfurt Airport in Germany, to begin his new life here in the US. In his own words “We flew to Brussels, Belgium, and a snowstorm prevented us a continuation the same day, so we stayed at the airport hotel. The next day weather had improved and from Belgium we went to Manchester, Shannon, Gander, and then to New York City where we transferred per helicopter, and finally arrived about 7pm in Cleveland, Ohio.” Cleveland is where Willy would make his home for years to come. Unable to speak the language, understand a newspaper, or what was being said on TV, he set out to find work as a baker, and embrace his newfound home here in Northeast, Ohio.
Willy took a job at Fazio’s Bakery where he spent the next twenty years as a supervisor splitting his time between Cleveland and Columbus. In 1980 he opened Hoffmannbeck’s Old World Bakery on the Westside of Columbus, Ohio, which he ran until 1998 when he closed shop and moved north to join forces with his wife, Sandy, at Neat Sweets Bakery in Sandusky, Ohio. Every morning Willy’s gruff voice charmed guests, regardless of their age, with a “Good morning, yunk man!” or “Nice to see you again, yunk lady!” as he quickly became a fixture of the community as he served up a plethora of cakes, pies, pastries and an impossibly good fruitcake that landed him on the front page of the local paper.
Willy was a person manifold as the goods that filled the cases in his bakeries. He was a soccer player for most of his life and an ardent fan of the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland Indians. He was generous and warm as a friend and acquaintance, and he was tremendously supportive and loyal to those he loved. Did he try to balance himself upside down on a swinging porch chair to impress his wife and ultimately crash to the ground like a sack of flour? He did. Was he also a caring shoulder and source of pure love to her? He was. Willy could warm a room, with an ice-cold beer in hand. He found joy in his wife and family, and as a father was challenging and always did his best to make sure his kids were taken care of and had more than what they needed.
He is survived by the love of his life, Sandy Hoffmannbeck; sons, Warner Hoffmannbeck, Herb Hoffmannbeck, and Pete Hoffmannbeck (Kathy); stepchildren, Tammy Flores (Gino), Klae Bainter, Brandon Bainter (Candy), Amber Kesterson (Russ), and Sue Taylor (Rich); in-laws, Randy McCutcheon (Brenda), and Susie Dickson (Larry), Kathy Oliver; mother-in-law, Connie Gordon; and numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association, PO Box 840692, Dallas, TX 75284-0692.
Foster Funeral Home & Crematory, Huron, is assisting the family. Online condolences may be shared at www.fosterfhcom.
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