Northfield Center officials remember service director as 'hardworking'

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Richard "Rick" Youel

NORTHFIELD CENTER – The longtime service director and road superintendent for Northfield Center Township was remembered as an honest, hardworking man dedicated to the community.

Richard “Rick” Youel, 44, died unexpectedly Feb. 8 while he was getting ready to come into work, said Helen Humphrys, township administrator. He had collapsed in his garage.

According to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s office, cause of death was listed as natural, with the probable cause being an arrhythmia.

Humphrys said she had known Youel for more than 20 years through the Ohio Township Association.

“Rick was always a man of his word,” she said. “He lived and died Northfield Center Township. He grew up in Northfield. He was devoted to his family and his friends. He was loyal. Rick was just one in a million. He will forever be in our hearts.”

Youel started working part-time for Northfield Center in 1993, and started working full-time for the township in 1994, Humphrys said. In addition, he also served on Northfield Center Fire Department as a part-time paramedic/firefighter/EMT from 1999 until 2003.

Trustee Paul Buescher said Youel’s death was “a tragedy and a surprise.” Youel joined the road department when Chuck Pickering was the service director, “and he learned the ropes quickly.”

“When Chuck left, we had no objections to putting [Youel] in charge,” Buescher said.

Buescher said that Youel was “a friendly person.”

“He’d do anything to help you out, whether it was township related or not,” Buescher said. “He was a nice guy. He ran the service department very professionally.”

Youel and his team were able to do a lot of repair work and replacements in-house, “instead of contracting it out.”

“This saved the township a lot of money,” Buescher said. “He put together a good team in the service department. His people respected him highly, and we all got along like extended family. When someone needed something, he was always in contact during emergencies. He was always there when we needed him. He was just on top of it all, all the time.”

Frank Buehner, who had been the township’s road foreman, is currently serving as acting service director and road superintendent, Buescher said.

“We are going to miss him,” Buescher said of Youel. “He and his team got very high marks from community for the work done, and that will continue. We lost a good friend, and he will be missed by many.”

According to the information in his obituary, Youel “was an avid chef, and loved hosting the holidays and gatherings with his family and friends.” He also loved boating and fishing.

He was predeceased by parents James and Nancy. He is survived by wife Brooke, sister Janice May, and several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours are Sunday at Ferfolia Funeral Home, 356 W. Aurora Road in Sagamore Hills, from 2 to 6 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial is Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Barnabas Catholic Church, 9451 Brandywine Road in Northfield Center. Interment will be at All Saints Cemetery.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com