Re: Joe Nuxhall Passes Away
A tip of the cap for Nuxhall
BY MICHAEL D. CLARK
FAIRFIELD – Much of Cincinnati Reds legend Joe Nuxhall’s life was about always showing up to help.
Whether it was a charity event, a fund-raiser, or a sports banquet helping his beloved Fairfield schools, Nuxhall's steadfast loyalty added to his mystique.
On Tuesday more than 10,000 fans of all ages – including many former and current Reds – are expected return the favor by attending the memorial at Fairfield Senior High School for the former Reds pitcher and broadcaster.
The memorial is expected to be one of largest public visitation services in Butler County’s history.
Officials from Fairfield schools met Monday with local police and fire officials – as well as those from the Cincinnati Reds – to plan Nuxhall’s memorial. The visitation is expected to include dozens of former and current Reds among the crowd that will file past the Ol' Left-hander's open casket center court in the school’s gym.
Nuxhall’s son Kim said he was stunned by the outpouring of affection for his father, who died Thursday night at Mercy Hospital Fairfield after a battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphona. He was 79.
“Wow! It’s totally overwhelming what’s going on out there. I knew it was going to be a story, but I didn’t think it would be like this. It’s been unbelievable,” said Kim Nuxhall.
"Dad would be embarrassed by all of this attention,’’ Nuxhall said of the publicity surrounding his father’s death. "He never thought of himself as a celebrity."
"(It’s) sad, of course, at times. But also inspiring, to know what the impact was (of his life), and how far-reaching.''
Thousands are expected to line up early Tuesday outside the high school gym before the 4 p.m. start of the visitation.
Preparations will begin shortly after dawn in what funeral officials are calling Butler County’s largest public memorial in decades.
“This is a historic, one-time event for people,” said Tom Zettler, managing director of Zettler Funeral Home in Nuxhall’s hometown of Hamilton.
For those who can’t attend the visitation, Nuxhall’s funeral motorcade – after a private family ceremony – will pass through both Fairfield and Hamilton Wednesday morning enroute to Rose Hill Cemetery on the eastern edge of Hamilton.
Cincinnati Reds officials will provide banners, photos and memorabilia at the visitation but declined to comment about further details surrounding their participation in the memorial or who among current or former Reds players may attend.
Fairfield Senior High School's 3,500-seat arena is the largest prep sports venue in Greater Cincinnati.
Those attending will have guest books to sign before lining up to walk past displays of Nuxhall photos before arriving at his casket. More than 10,000 copies of a commemorative memorial program will be handed out.
There will be no eulogies or speeches, only the singing of the national anthem at 4 p.m. by Kyle Conley, a blind Fairfield senior who has sung the anthem at Cincinnati Reds games. Visitation will end at 8 p.m.
Fairfield Senior High Principal Paul Waller said no cameras, video recorders or camera phones will be allowed in the gym in deference to the open casket being allowed by Nuxhall’s family.
Helping to maintain order at the memorial will be 15 police officers from Fairfield, Hamilton and the Butler County Sheriff’s department. Another 15 firefighters from Fairfield will also help with crowd control.
As visitors pull into the school’s 2,000-space parking lot they will see a tribute message on the school’s entrance sign.
“Mr. Nuxhall. You will be missed. Thanks for your support.”
Although school is out this week for Thanksgiving, Fairfield junior William Kameron plans to be among the thousands paying respects.
“I remember listening to him on the radio. He was a pretty cool guy,” said the 16-year-old.
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