CELINA, Ohio (WDTN) – Pastor Rick Brosher said he remembers Dale Hanna whenever he walks around his church – Abounding Grace Ministries in Celina. It was Hanna who coordinated and oversaw the construction of the building in 2008.

A year after Hanna’s death Brosher has fond memories of the only victim of the Celina tornado. Hanna was asleep in his home on Fairground Road when the EF3 tornado hit the northwest portion of the town on Memorial Day in 2019. He died when debris was thrown into his house.

“He was the real deal,” Brosher said. “Just a kind, gentle and compassionate and loving man.”

Hanna was born in Mercer County in the 1930s. He moved back to the area after running his own business in Findlay for several years. Upon his move home and his retirement he volunteered with Mission Assemblies Placement Service, the volunteer arm of the Assemblies of God Church, to travel and build churches.

“He was a blessing to so many different churches,” Brosher said. “He had the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, not on a stage or teaching conferences, but making it possible for local ministries to move forward because of his effort and labor.”

Brosher said Hanna gained his construction experience through commercial building projects he was involved with. He had also owned a lumber company and other businesses.

Dale Hanna (left) and friend Lester Gehm work on the construction of Abounding Grace Ministries Church in Celina in 2008. Hanna was killed on Memorial Day 2019 after his home was struck by an EF3 tornado. Contributed photo

He married his wife Dottie in 1954. After retirement, the two returned to Celina. Hanna built their home on Fairground Road. Dottie died in 2014, a few months short of their 60th wedding anniversary.

“(She) had a series of health problems,” Brosher said. “She had diabetes and heart issues and it was the heart issues that took her life. I was on a fishing trip when Dale called and told me she was dying.

“They were a great team They were opposites – Dale was reserved and quiet and Dottie was outspoken. They had a great relationship.”

Brosher said Hanna continued helping the church with projects after his wife’s death. In 2015, the church began building cabins as part of its Hand Up ministry. The purpose of the project was to house the homeless and help people get on their feet. Hanna helped the church building the cabins.

The cabins were some of Hanna’s last projects with the church. Brosher said he began suffering memory loss and continued to miss his late wife in the months before the tornado took his life.

“He didn’t know if he was going to be able to continue living at home,” Brosher said. “He was a cool guy and very realistic – he wasn’t bucking the idea of going to a nursing home if that was going to have to happen, but it wasn’t something he wanted to do.

“He told me on more than one occasion, before the tornado took his life, that he was ready to go to heaven. His health was in decline and he “couldn’t do it anymore.” I know it’s still so very tragic but (his death) happened so quickly, the paramedics said there wasn’t likely a lot of pain and suffering involved.”

Brosher said the church would recognize Hanna this weekend, someone he considered a close friend as well as a member of the congregation.

“You can’t walk into our building and not think of him,” Brosher said. “He is a major part of who we are. We will certainly be remembering him and always will. He’ll never be forgotten.”

Donations in Hanna’s memory can be made to Abounding Grace Ministries.