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Edward Hurlbut deConingh, age 90, died peacefully on August 19, 2019. Ted, as he was known, was born in Cleveland on December 23, 1928, following his twin sister Mary, to Edward deConingh and Virginia Mueller deConingh. He was educated at Hawken School, Phillips Exeter Academy, and Princeton University, earning a B.A. degree in 1951. That same year, during the Korean War, Ted was drafted into the Army. In Corpus Christi, TX Ted was able to fulfill an early ambition to earn a private pilot license. His most memorable flight was to Indianapolis, IN in May, 1956 where he a had a blind date with a certain Barbara Field who became his wife the following February. Ted and Barbara had three children: Fritz (1957), Matt (1959) and Caroline (1964). Sadly, Barbara died of lymphoma in 1994 at age sixty. But Ted got lucky, and within a year became friendly with Anne Smith Wombwell, recently widowed and a nearby resident in Chagrin Falls. That blossomed into their marriage in 1998. Ted is also survived by four grandchildren: Isabelle deConingh (1991), Matthew deConingh (1994), Sophia Saliby (1996) and Savannah Saliby (1998), as well as his sisters Mary deConingh Emerson and Virginia deConingh Fleming.
Ted’s business career began in 1953 with Mueller Electric Co., founded in Cleveland in 1908 by his grandfather, Ralph Mueller. For most of the fifties and sixties the company management included three generations: Ralph, his son Scott, son-in-law Ed deConingh and his son Ted. Ted became president of the company in 1980 and retired in 1986. Mueller Electric was ultimately sold to an investor. However, the original 1922 factory building on East 31st St. is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been "recharged" as freshly renovated urban apartments known as the Mueller Lofts.
Shortly after being drafted Ted signed up to be a “foster father” in the Foster Parents Plan for War Children (Plan). The obligation was a modest monthly contribution and written correspondence with the foster child. Ted especially remembered his first foster child, Dionisio Antonucci, age 12 from Italy, who had lost an eye to a land mine explosion; and a much later one, Majeedu Berdua, from northern Ghana in Africa. Here Ted learned of the critical need for pre-school facilities. Ted agreed to fund the materials for a two-room school building in Majeedu’s village. Ted’s association with Plan continued for over sixty years. After he retired, Ted continued to express his passion for children and education by volunteering as a math tutor for the Cleveland City School District “Math Assistance Program”.
In 1972 both Ted and Barbara joined the newly begun volunteer effort to save and restore the grand 1920s era theaters in Playhouse Square. The experimental years of the 1970s, highlighted by the production of “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” led to the “hard-hat” era of the 1980s. During that period significant new funding made possible renovations of the theaters. Ted satisfied naming rights for the Allen rotunda chandelier, and it hangs today in memory of Barbara, who devoted countless volunteer hours to help bring the theaters back to their former glory. Playhouse Square’s four restored theaters became the heart of the largest restoration project in American theater history. The trustees of Playhouse Square Foundation elected Ted its first Trustee for Life, and he continued to retain an active interest in what he considered a magnificent civic asset.
Phillips Exeter Academy
20 Main Street, Exeter NH 03833
Playhouse Square Foundation
1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland OH 44115
P.O. Box 8002, Gates Mills OH 44040
Western Reserve Land Conservancy
3850 Chagrin River Rd., Chagrin Falls OH 44022