Back in the day when a corps of school-age carriers still dropped the Akron Beacon Journal on doorsteps, Bill Aylward was a father figure to many of the youngsters.
During a circulation department career that spanned 50 years, he even found himself at juvenile court trying to help one of his team work through problems.
“He really cared about them,” said Jim DeLuca, the Beacon Journal’s vice president of circulation.
William Boyle Aylward, 91, died at his home Thursday.
“Akron will really be at a loss,” said his daughter, Carolyn Henretta. “He was so much fun, and he was involved in so many things.”
Mr. Aylward’s interests were diverse.
He served four years as a medic in the Army during World War II. That training served him in 2008 when he received an Acts of Courage award from the Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross for helping to perform CPR on a man who had collapsed at a dinner. Mr. Aylward was in his late 80s at the time.
In 1995, he was recognized by the national J.C. Penney Golden Rule Awards, which spotlights those involved in philanthropy and volunteer service.
In 1998, the United Way of Summit County honored him for years of volunteerism.
This past fall, he was honored for being president of the Northwest Block Watch Group.
He was also a past chairman of the board for Archbishop Hoban High School and helped the Catholic school through the troubled 1970s, when it almost closed.
He’s a member of the Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, having spent several years as a bullpen catcher in the minor leagues.
“He was very athletic, and he was a runner, too. He ran until his early 80s,” his daughter said.
He was also a big family man, Henretta said.
“He loved his family and his grandchildren. He had a great wit about him. He was so funny and outgoing,” she said. “He was also very proud to be Irish.”
Mr. Aylward was the assistant circulation director when he retired from the Beacon in 1992, one of five family members who had careers in the same department.
His father, Joseph M. Aylward, was circulation manager from 1928 until his death in 1954. His three brothers — John, Joseph and Edward — also later worked in the department.
“He loved the newspaper business,” DeLuca said. “He never had the top job, but everyone would go to him because of his wealth of knowledge.”
He also was beloved for his even temper and sense of fairness.
“I never saw Bill upset to the point he had to raise his voice. People really respected him,” DeLuca said.
Mr. Aylward helped found the Ohio Circulation Managers Association and became an expert on the topic of the postal service as it related to newspapers.
“He would write articles in trade publications and had been to Washington, D.C., for meetings. He did all kinds of things,” DeLuca said.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; daughters Aileen Nicolino, Maureen Barcic and Carolyn Henretta; and sons Mark, Timothy and Lawrence.
Calling hours will be 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Hummel Funeral Home, 500 E. Exchange St., Akron. A Mass of Christian burial will be 9:30 a.m. Monday at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 476 Mull Ave., Akron, with interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.