Funeral home and family make special arrangement for Wally Troyer.
LAKE TWP. Inside his casket, beneath a spray of white carnations, hydrangeas and snapdragons, Wally Troyer’s body lies at the threshold of two open doors at Hartville Conservative Mennonite Church.
It’s the same church where Troyer once ministered. The same church down the road from a log home where he and his wife, Wilma, spent half their lives raising three children of their own; three more they’d adopted; and countless foster kids welcomed into their house.
Wally Troyer died Friday. He was 79 years old. He’d been sick for months with the dreaded ’C’ word. Not COVID-19. The other one -- cancer.
His calling hours weren’t supposed to be like this. But the pandemic has forced families and funeral homes to cancel, delay or adjust services.
And maybe it’s a good thing Arnold Funeral Home and his family came up with the idea of a drive-through viewing Tuesday afternoon. Friends drove by in a single-file line, paying respects to Wally then waving to the Troyer family, who’d gathered in five parked vehicles at the end of the line.
"There wouldn’t be a parking lot big enough to hold everyone for regular calling hours anyway," said one of his daughters, Tena Ojo.
Wally Troyer seemed to know everyone. Raised Amish, he later became conservative Mennonite. A farmer turned truck driver for Hartville Elevator, he delivered home heating oil to locals for many of his 39 years at the business -- until last summer when he was too ill to continue.
"He wanted to work until he was 80," said son, Tim Troyer.
Funeral directors will tell you calling hours aren’t really for the deceased anyway. They are for surviving family and friends. They’re an opportunity to confront grief, celebrate a life and to begin adjusting.
Despite Tuesday’s unconventional setup, they were a chance to cry, laugh and remember.
Hartville Elevator co-owner Craig Wellspring and driver John Koval parked the same red truck that Wally Troyer drove in front of the church. Soon, it will get a permanent emblem to name it the "Wally."
"He was a friend, teacher and pastor," Wellspring said.
Son Zach Troyer said he always marveled at how much his bearded dad resembled Abraham Lincoln. Tena Ojo recalled how she used to sing songs of faith with her dad. Dave Troyer chuckled at how his wannabe auctioneer dad would hold fake auctions of family animals.
Son Marlin Troyer brought a poem he’d been writing in bits and pieces. In the finished product, "My Father," he recalled how his dad practiced preaching to cows before delivering the same sermon in church; rescued a drunk; loved all his children without reserve; and helped shape the man that the son has become.
"We won’t lie ... our family had struggles, but his faith always stuck out," Marlin Troyer said.
Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @tbotosREP