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Harold Eugene Corderman

December 19, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Harold Eugene Corderman, who died Dec. 4 at the age of 64. His obituary was published in The Herald-Mail on Dec. 6.

When Linda Vaverchak went on a blind date with Harold Corderman in 1969, she found herself riding with him to Martinsburg, W.Va., so he could look at an Oldsmobile muscle car.

It was an introduction to how her life with Harold would play out over the coming years.

"We'd never met before," Linda said. "I just remember riding on U.S. 11 in November. I was glad to get back in one piece."

Just back from Vietnam, Harold didn't give up after that first encounter with his wife-to-be.

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"We kept dating ... I remember he called me and we talked for a half hour," Linda said.

Early in their marriage, Linda was a legal secretary whose income was very important to the young family.

Harold, who died Dec. 4, quickly earned a reputation as a crackerjack auto body man while he was working at Massey and Central Motors for many years.

In 1973, Harold started Corderman's Auto Body Inc. He later had Corderman's Motorsports Inc.

A family business from the start, Linda said she helped out even after the birth of the couple's only child, Jill, in 1974.

"I'd sand cars in the backyard and watch Jill," Linda said.

Early on, Jill expressed an interest in helping out. Learning the business from her father turned into a full-time job in 1992. Since her dad's unexpected passing, Jill is squarely at the helm.

"Dad was a workaholic," Jill said. "He missed a lot of dinners and school plays when I was growing up."

Jill said she knew there were few vacations when she was little. "But I didn't know any better then, and it was fine," Jill said.

Nelson Corderman, the older brother by five years, said he concurs with his niece, remembering a family vacation in the late 1970s in a motor home to Williamsburg, Va.

"I'd take him hunting and he'd end up going back to the camp and cooking," Nelson said.

Hearing that story, Linda smiled and shared her own hunting memory.

"I made him egg and olive sandwiches, coffee and packed Twinkies," Linda said. "I could see him out in the woods."

She remembers Harold was more interested in having her make him more egg and olive sandwiches than bagging any wildlife.

Harold only ever got one deer. Jill said she remembers he must have driven it all over Hagerstown because he was so tickled.

It was quite clear that Harold was happiest when he was at work around cars.

Retired from a truck dealership, Nelson recalls helping Harold in the 1980s.

"I wrote estimates for him -- Harold knew the body work and I knew the mechanics," Nelson said.

Linda said Harold learned a lot working in his dad's garage.

"He always had a love of automotive things," she said, noting his favorite car was a canary yellow Oldsmobile Cutlass 442.

On the day Harold died, the family knew something was wrong when he didn't show up for work.

"He died in his sleep," Linda said.

Jill said many Corderman customers have assured her they will stay with the auto body business because of their loyalty to Harold and his work ethic.

Taking over the business portion, Jill said she plans to continue helping out washing and taping vehicles. Three employees do the body work.

Linda said business has been good over the years with appointments as far as six or eight weeks ahead. Although she and Harold haven't lived under the same roof for many years, Linda said they were together for family and for the business.

Kendall Bartle, Jill's 10-year-old son, spent as much time as he could with his "Pap Pap."

The youngster wrote a personal condolence to his grandfather on the funeral home's Web site.

"I really miss my Pap-Pap. He was my hero. I really enjoyed what we did together and he was my favorite. He was my hero for life. I know 64 is young for my Pap-Pap. I will always love him and he will always be my grandfather," Kendall signed.

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