A photo of Horace A. Wahl, Jr.

Horace A. Wahl, Jr.

May 5, 1941 - October 9, 2021

This is not an ordinary obituary as he was not an ordinary man … so special to us and to so many others for countless reasons. Horace A. Wahl, Jr, age 80, of Wilmington, DE, passed away on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Horace was the best encourager, a compassionate man, full of wisdom, never too busy to talk to anyone who dropped in or phoned to ask advice, sometimes spending hours with them.  His generosity and compassion extended far beyond his friends and family, for one of his greatest passions was donating to and helping the needy within his community and others.         

Horace was a great father … he loved watching our two sons grow up into the men they are today.  He was always so proud of them both, bragging about their accomplishments whenever he had the chance.

He was a wonderful husband and confidant, my best friend – married 58 years, known for 60 years.  The motto we passed back-and-forth was, “wish I could have turned back time, I’d have met you sooner and loved you longer.”  Horace was a true romantic.

Before passing away, one of his last phone calls was to pre-arrange with his brother to send me my favorite flowers, yellow roses, after his death, with a card that read, “Janice, I’m with my mother and father now, I have no pain.  I want to thank you for a wonderful 58 years for which I will be eternally grateful.  Forever, All my Love, Butch.”  — Well, it doesn’t get any more romantic than that…. Flowers from heaven

He was a man of quiet faith, a Godly man.  Horace had a great desire to please God.  He always felt his time wouldn’t be up until he finished all God had planned for him.  Well, we’re promised “80 years if we are strong” (PS 90:10) so I got to tell him “You got the 80.”  In the hospital, he was a fighter, amazing his nurses, fighting till the end.  What pleased him so much was that his nurse’s name was Shawna, which means, “God’s gift.”

I can’t leave out his passion for Italian food and his favorite, a spaghetti/ravioli combination.

And, lastly, if you were with him long, you would always hear a story relevant to your conversation.  He was well-known as a story-teller.

So, all these things might give you insight to the special man he was.

Now, some of his many accomplishments …

After growing up, from an early age Horace worked with his father at Wahl Heating & Metal Co., learning all facets of the trades.  In 1966 he went on his own, starting Quality Heating & Air Conditioning Company, Inc.  This has now covered a span of five decades, still growing and expanding.  Throughout this process he became a well-known, influential and respected businessman in Wilmington and the surrounding areas.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, in addition to building and running his company, he built many houses in the Wilmington and Hockessin area, which would have been a full-time job for many.  In 1982, Horace joined Delaware Contractors Association (DCA), and was elected President in 1993.  He also became a member of the Association of Builders & Contractors (ABC) and became President there in 1986.  I was always proud and amazed while watching him deliver his acceptance speeches.  He never prepared ahead but usually started thinking about what he would say on the way to the event.  He was always gracious and humble.

One award that took him by surprise was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from DCA in 2019.  As they were introducing the recipient of the award, he never caught on that it was him until they mentioned the person was also President of Wilmington & Western Railroad.  He was able to stand and humbly accept this award he was so proud of.

He was also Chairman of the ABC National Trust for 7 years.  This role involved much travel and overseeing of the insurance market for ABC, it’s members and all chapters.

Another achievement, becoming a lifetime member of Ashrae, The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

As mentioned above, he was President of the Wilmington & Western Railroad for 9 years and later, to this day, was treasurer, also mentoring and helping along the way. Adding to this, he was also instrumental in having the General Assembly in Dover designate the WWRR as Delaware’s operating railroad museum.

 Being involved with the WWRR was a logical choice of interest for him as for many years he was an avid collector of Lionel toy trains, and a member of the Lionel Operating Train Society (LOTS), and also the Train Society of America (TCA).  Over the years, he travelled to numerous LOTS train shows all over the country and at home, he spent countless hours over the years designing and building train layouts, much to the delight of our grandchildren. You can see, he was a “mover and shaker” never letting the grass grow under his feet.

During these very busy years, he also attained the dream of earning a pilot’s license to fly single-engine planes.  This delighted him, but not I.  I did fly with him a few times and once with our sons, from Miami, Florida to Freeport, Bahamas.  It wasn’t too bad till he asked us if we saw an island down below, which we didn’t, and he said “… that’s funny – should be there.”  Though we did land on the island and arrived back in Miami safe, that was the last time he had our company in a plane!  And, of course, he was kidding when he asked that question – not the right time for that!  He was a jokester, and teased, even to the end; i.e., in the hospital, I texted him “Jesus is with you,” and he texted back, “Jesus is everywhere, but he’s busy.”

In addition to all mentioned above he was an avid boater and fisherman, also earning his captain’s license.  Our boating spanned over 40 years and many boats.  If you are a boater, you know you are always looking for the “perfect one.”  We enjoyed boating in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.  During this time, he also attained another dream: “Having a home on the water here (in Ocean City, MD), and another home in Florida (Jupiter), and a boat to go in between.”  This was his dream even long before we even had our first boat!  And, we did take our boat several times from Ocean City to Jupiter.

During this time, adding to our schedule, we travelled all over the world, often monthly, visiting 6 continents, only missing Antarctica.  Many trips were earned through business, and many were personal.  We were in Europe more times than we could count, and in the process made lifetime friends in both Switzerland and Germany, visiting them many times.  They also visited us here, in Ocean City and in Florida.  Our trips spanned fifty years; Oh the tales we have had to tell of all these adventures, so many memories, and of course, much shopping!!

Sadly, COVID ended our travels as we were forced to cancel our last planned trip to Europe to visit our friends as well as other trips.

After boating, he started collecting vintage cars – his favorite, a white 1963 Pontiac convertible, in pristine original condition with only 27,000 miles.  His second favorite (also mine) was a 1957 Bel Air Convertible in Larkspur blue, just like the one I had when we first met (except this one was restored with a new top, leather interior, Air Conditioning, etc.) He also had a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air,, like he had when we met, plus many other special cars.  He truly had a “Man Cave Dream,” which he called “Wahlspace.”

So, as you can see, he was not an ordinary man.

Finally, survivors…

Beloved wife, Janice, sons Adam, wife Kimberly, Jeff, Grandchildren, Tyler, Abigail, Kyle and Blake, brother Charles and sisters Patricia Testa and Deborah Supinski, plus numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Calling hours for family and friends will be held from 5 pm until 7 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where a memorial service will begin at 7 pm. A funeral mass will be offered at 1 pm on Friday, October 29, 2021 at St. Mary of the Assumption R.C. Church, 7200 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, DE. The family prefers all in attendance wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.  Interment will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Horace’s memory to either The Friendship House, P.O. Box 1517, Wilmington, DE 19899 or Wilmington & Western Railroad, Post Office Box 5787, Wilmington DE 19808.

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15 Condolences for Horace A. Wahl, Jr.

  • Bless you in Heaven my Brother….
    Chuck E. Wahl

  • So sorry for you lost Janice & family. He was a great cousin from the times we were kids through teenage years until today we always remain close. The world has lost a wonderful person

  • Dear Family,

    Very sorry for your loss. Now at 71, I have read my share of obituaries. Mr.Wahl’s was, by far, the one that really solidifies the phrase: A Life Well Led. I truly wish I could have met him.

    The wonderful memories you have will never replace Horace, but they definitely should offer a measure of solace.

    Again, sorry for your loss……

    Michael Keogh

    Former Lifeguard in OC, MD, Son in Keogh Son and Grandson Paving, and H S English teacher and Head Golf Coach at The U of Delaware

  • Chuck and Family, deepest sympathy for the loss of your brother. May your memories of him comfort you at this time!
    Maria Gagnon

  • Horace – was no ordinary man – you are so right. He is at peace in heaven with his mom and dad. The flowers after he passed – what a romantic and loving story. Keep his memory close at heart.

    Anne (cousin to his mom, Aunt Theresa)

  • A psalm of David –

    Psalm 23:6 – “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

    My deepest condolences and sympathies to the family!

  • Such a delightful friend and loving husband. His memory shines brightly as part of all of us blessed to know you.

  • I will fondly remember my time working with Horace at the Wilmington Western railroad and as the grandfather of one of my past students at Stanford School. Enjoy your last ride on that great engine to heaven!

  • Horace,
    For more than 25 years, I have been a member of a gang of volunteers that replaced the railroad ties that hold the metal rails together. It is backbreaking and lonely work because we can only work when the trains are not on the rails. Your gift of industrial grade safety jackets made us feel appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • A wise and generous great man. Our close friend for over 50 years in
    Fun travels and quiet moments. A sweet family we enjoyed growing
    Up. How blessed are all who knew him and Janice. I will surely miss
    Him. My love to all.

  • MY UPMOST RESPECTS TO BUTCHS ENTIRE FAMILY, HE WOULD BE PROUD OF THE WRITE UP (BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY). JUST LIKE SINATRA , BUTCH ” DID IT MY WAY” . HE WAS A UNIQUE MAN, MAY HE R.I.P. I WAS PROUD TO CALL HIM COUSIN.

  • HORACE, HAD A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR, AND WAS FUN TO BE AROUND. HE WAS AN EXCELLENT BUSINESS MAN, AND A GOOD INVESTOR. HE WAS VERY PROUD OF HIS FAMILY, AND VALUED HIS RELATIONSHIPS WITH HIS MANY FAMILY MEMBERS.

    GEORGE GODFREY JR.

  • Dear Family,
    I am so saddened by Horace’s passing. I have thought of him over and over and have many wonderful memories of our times professionally. He and I worked together at the Railroad for many years. He was there guiding me through some pretty dark times after Mother Nature dealt us some pretty tough problems. He was great to work for, always positive, upbeat and a forward thinking person who could always make you feel confident and appreciated. Every time we got together for a business lunch he would make you feel self assured and energized to carry on. We had many lunches together. I heard many of his stories. We all did.
    Once I retired, I missed that working relationship. He was one of the best friends I had at the railroad. Horace was great man. A great leader for the WWRR with a keen business sense. He will be missed by both staff and volunteers.
    David

  • Condolences to the family. Sure will miss his joking around and his stories. Dave and Ed. Delaware Classic Corvette.

  • Janice, Steve and I would like to express our deepest sympathy to you and your family. We were so sorry to learn of Horace’s passing.
    God Bless, your Marsh Harbour neighbors,
    Joan and Steve Humphreys