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Dr. Charles F. Wocher
IT is the dictate of our nature to bedew with affectionate tears the silent urn of departed genius and virtue; to unburden the fullness of the surcharged heart in eulogium upon deceased benefactors, and to rehearse their noble deeds for the benefit of those who may come after us. Hence the following feeble tribute to one of nature's noblemen. An humble son of highly respectable parents, deprived during his boyhood years of some privileges for which he probably yearned and starting his active career at the bottom of the ladder, he nevertheless belonged to the highest nobility of the race. No accident made his career; no opportunity for sudden advancement offered itself to him. He made his opportunity; he achieved every step of his career, often in the face of obstacles that would have overwhelmed souls of less sterling mettle. The basic principle by which he strove and conquered was loyalty; when he recognized a duty, the service gave him joy, a joy that was second only to the consciousness of work well done. Endowed with a large heart and a tender sympathy that embraced every one, regardless of sect or creed, he made himself of such inestimable value to the community in which he lived that at his death all felt a sense of personal bereavement. He was universally recognized as a splendid citizen, a man of lofty character and high ideals, who never permitted the pursuit of wealth or his own affairs to warp the kindly impulses of his heart towards those about him, many of whom had just reason to look upon him as a friend and brother. Because of what he was and what he did, Charles F. Wocher is eminently entitled to representation among the truly worthy men of his State.
Charles F. Wocher was descended from sturdy, honest old German stock, his forebears having been people of high standing in the fatherland, where "Von Wocher" was the family patrinymic. The subject's paternal grandfather, Dr. Carl Von Wocher, was a noted surgeon of his day, and spent his entire life in Germany, the family home having been at Freiburg. The family were in comfortable circumstances and all of his children received good educations. Of these children, Louis Wocher, who was born at Freiburg, came to the United States in young manhood and became one of Cincinnati's early citizens and well-known in the community as industrious and respected folk. His death occurred in this city about forty-two years ago. Upon coming to Cincinnati, he was first employed by his brother Max, a manufacturer of surgical instruments on Sixth Street. Having a desire to follow in his father's footsteps and take up the practice of medicine, he matriculated in the Ohio Medical College, but, his health failing, he was compelled to relinquish his studies. In the meantime, he had acquired a partnership interest with his brother Max, but, now that he was married and realized that the business was not large enough to support two families, he withdrew from the firm and started in business for himself as a manufacturer of surgical instruments, on Main Street, between Seventh and Eighth
streets. Here he remained up to the time of his death. His widow, not being able to carry on the business, sold it and devoted herself to the task of rearing her family, taking in sewing and in other ways bravely struggling that her children might be kept together and receive good educations. Her maiden name was Anna Reichel, the daughter of Frederick Reichel. She was born in Germany and was but three years old when the family came to the United States, the long and stormy voyage being made on a slow-going sailing boat. They located at Dayton, Ohio, where the parents both died. She remained a resident of that city until her marriage to Mr. Wocher, after which event her home was in Cincinnati, where her death occurred on September 30, 1913. She and her husband lived over their store until his death, when she moved into a house which she owned on Pleasant Street. There she lived for twenty-one years, or until her son, the subject of this memoir presented her with the splendid home which he had built
for her on Dexter Avenue. Louis Wocher was an enthusiastic member of the Manerchor and Leiderkranz, two leading German musical organizations, and frequently went with them to other cities to give concerts or music festivals. It was while on one of these trips to Dayton, Ohio, that he met and formed the acquaintance of her whom he afterwards married. They were the parents of three children, Charles F., to a review of whose career this sketch is specifically directed; Ida, who still resides in the old home on Dexter Avenue, and Emma, deceased.
Charles F. Wocher was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received his elementary education in the public and high schools of this city. His first employment was in the drug store of Dr. Adolph Fennel on September 4, 1871, where, as errand boy, he began that career which was to mark him as a man of unusual character and worth. Doctor Fennel took an interest in the lad and, besides giving him an insight into business methods, he gave him special lessons in chemistry. On April 1, 1875, Mr. Wocher took charge of R. F. Eisenlohr's drug store, at Vine and Liberty streets, but a month later he became connected with Otto Taxis' drug store. On August 9 of the same year, he entered H. F. Rheum's drug store, at Fifth and Broadway, where he remained until December 28, 1881, when he went to Weatherhead's drug store, at the corner of Sixth and Vine streets. About thirty-five years ago, Mr. Wocher engaged in the drug business on his own account at the southeast corner of Seventh and Main streets, buying the store formerly owned by Doctor Schmidt, and this store he conducted until his death. He had become well-known to the customers of the stores where he had formerly been employed and by these patrons he was held in such favor that when he started in on his own account many of his old friends gave him their patronage. On May 5, 1873, Mr. Wocher was granted a regular license as a pharmacist, and nearly twenty years later, in 1891, after due examinations, he was granted the degree of Doctor of Medicine by the Medical College of Ohio, standing at the head of his class.
Dr. Charles F. Wocher was a man of unusual mold and because of the unusual qualities which characterized him he became, in the immediate community with which he was identified, a man of distinction. Large-hearted and generous, with an intense realization of the everlasting truth of the brotherhood of man, he could not permit any one to suffer when it was within his power to relieve distress. Thus he was always able to give medicinal aid to those who needed it but were not able to pay for it, and this was done with no thought of reward or recognition. Not only did he thus relieve many individual cases, but many charitable institutions were the recipients of his generosity and liberality. He gave without partiality to Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or nonbeliever—it did not occur to him to inquire as to a person's belief, just so that person was really in need of help and it was within his power to render assistance. The fact that his charities were conducted under the seal of secrecy, and that he modestly refrained from seeking credit for any of his good deeds, did not lessen his popularity among those he benefited. During the financial panic under President Cleveland's administration, Doctor Wocher announced that he would treat free of charge all poor people who needed a physician or medicine. Such was the high regard in which he was held that the members of St. Xavier's Church, Catholic, called him their "Little Genius" and before his graduation the priests of that church said mass for him, praying that he might be successful in his examinations. He took a special interest in the Newsboy's Home and gave them such medical assistance as they needed free of charge.
Enough has been said to indicate, in a measure, the splendid character of the man whose name we honor. It is the simple story of a life whose success is measured by its usefulness—a life that made for good in all its relations with the world, for his actions sprang from a heart filled with love and good feeling for humanity, and was a blessing to all who were within range of his influence. He possessed a strong social nature and by his genial and kindly attitude to those with whom he came in contact he won the confidence and respect of every one.
Doctor Wocher never married, but remained with his mother and sisters, to whose interests he was devoted. His sister Emma, whose death occurred February 29, 1894, was for ten years a school teacher in the Cincinnati public schools and, because of her ability, character, and disposition, was greatly beloved by all who knew her.
Politically, Doctor Wocher was an earnest supporter of the Republican party, having been a member of the old Blaine Club. His religious membership was with the St. John's German Lutheran Church, at the corner of Twelfth and Elm streets, to the support of which he gave generously.
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