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THEODORE J. BERENS
THOUGH many years have passed since the subject of this memoir passed from the life militant to the life triumphant, he is still favorably remembered by many of the older residents of Cincinnati, where for many years he was regarded as one of the leading business men anal public-spirited citizens. Because of his many excellent personal qualities and the splendid and definite influence which his life shed over the entire community in which he lived and for which he labored so earnestly to upbuild in any way within his power, it is particularly consonant that specific mention should be made of him in this work. A man of high moral character, unimpeachable integrity, persistent industry and excellent business judgment, he stood "four square to every wind that blew" and enjoyed to a marked degree the confidence and respect of his contemporaries.
Theodore J. Berens, whose sudden death occurred on February 25, 1892, was a native of the fatherland, having first seen the light of day near Bremen, Germany, on October 2, 1.834. He was the son of Prof. Frederick and Angela (Kempker) Berens, representatives of old and distinguished families in that community. Professor Berens was a widely-known organist and composer of music. He left a considerable estate, which is still extant, but as Angela Kempker was his second wife, she did not share in the estate. Soon afterwards she, with two of her sons, Theodore J. and Henry, came to the United States, some of her children having preceded her. Two daughters and a son located in St. Louis, Missouri, the others settling in Cincinnati, where she, too, lived and here died.
Theodore J. Berens was about seventeen years of age when he came to the United States and had received a good practical education in his native land. After becoming located in this country he determined to get started in business on his own account and his mother, having some means, advanced him the necessary funds. He became interested in the manufacture of furniture, a line of endeavor which commanded his attention during the remainder of his active years and in which he gained a most pronounced success. At that early day Cincinnati enjoyed a high reputation as a manufacturer of high-grade furniture, much of which was made by hand, and Mr. Berens soon occupied a large place among the furniture makers of this city. He became identified with Betts- Street Furniture Manufacturing Company, in which he was interested financially and of which company he was an officer, and to him was in a large measure due the splendid success which accompanied their operations. He later became a large stockholder in the Shannon Furniture Manufacturing Company, of which he was vice president and treasurer at the time of his death. The Betts-Street Company made a specialty of a baby cradle, on which they had a patent, and for which there was at that time a great demand, cradles in those days being a. necessary of every household equipment. The Shannon Company made a
specialty of bed-room sets. Mr. Berens became identified with a number of other business concerns, in all of which his sound judgment and keen sagacity were valued highly by his associates. Mr.
maintained the most friendly relations with his employees and at the time of his funeral the plant was shut down in.his honor and in order that those who so desired might attend the funeral services.
Mr. Berens was a close and intelligent reader of the best literature and was well and accurately informed on not only the classics, but also on the current questions and issues of the day. Politically, he was an ardent supporter of the Democratic party, and was frequently importuned to run for office, but he had no desire for public office, preferring his business affairs and the enjoyment of his home to any public distinction. However, he rendered efficient and appreciated service as a member of the city council, at a time when John Shillito and other prominent and able men were sitting on that body. Religiously, he was an earnest and faithful member of the Catholic Church, and gave generously and unostentatiously of his means, not only to the support of his church, but also to all worthy benevolent and charitable movements. From his father he inherited a love for music, and in the education of his children he gave them every opportunity to cultivate a knowledge, both theoretical and practical, of that art. He loved the beautiful in art and nature, and traveled much, enjoying the beauties of the country through which he passed. He was an honest and conscientious man in every phase of his life and earnestly endeavored to make good use of the talents with which his Creator had endowed him.
In the Cathedral at Cincinnati, Theodore J. Berens was united in marriage with Mary Higgins, who was a native of Ireland, and of English-Irish parentage. She was the daughter of John and Marcella (Harrington) Higgins, who brought their family to the United States, the father dying shortly after their arrival here. They first located in Kentucky, but later made their home in Cincinnati. Mary Higgins was the first-born of a large family of children, and was the last one of them to be called to her eternal rest, her death occurring in Cincinnati on January 18, 1914. She was a remarkable woman in many respects, not the least of which was her capacity for business affairs. After her husband's death, she looked after all the details of his affairs and so conducted them that she was able to add to the value of the estate. Though an invalid during the last four years of her life, she was always cheerful and optimistic, and continued to personally manage her affairs. She possessed a remarkably retentive memory and was rich in reminiscenses of earlier days, being a most pleasing and interesting conversationalist. She was earnest and faithful in her observance of the spiritual verities and took an active part in the various phases of church life. To Mr. and Mrs. Berens were born the following children: Anna, Loretta, who died at the age of seventeen years, Louis T., who also died at the age of seventeen, Charles, Fannie, Theodore J., Jr., Eugene L. and Gertrude. The surviving children, who are all unmarried, continue to reside in the
old homestead at No. 810 Mount Hope Avenue, and are all members of the Catholic Church. They were carefully reared by their parents and in their later years have reflected honor on their parents by their upright lives.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds