A German man who came to Skibbereen on business and made it his home has been described as ‘humble and beloved.’
Cian O’Mahony, who is a native of Skibbereen, struck up a 40-year friendship with the late Leo Werner who, at the age of 75, passed away on Tuesday, February 26th, eight months after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Cian described Leo as being ‘one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.’ As for what made him nice, Cian said: ‘He was just nice, always happy, very genuine and caring.’
Cian said the expression ‘Irish eyes are smiling’ could have been invented for Leo because it was his most distinctive characteristic. ‘He always had a ready smile – it lit up his entire face and his blue eyes.’
Cian said Leo and his wife Catherine were, in every sense, ‘a gorgeous couple’ and, on March 1st, the couple would have celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.
Catherine too has a ready smile and natural warmth.
In fact, Cian said the Werner family – including their four children Karen, Jurgen, Susan and Mark, and their grandchildren Evan, Leah, Rian, Kevin, Siún, Aoife, Brian, Jamie, Leo, Sara, Caoimhe and Oran – are ‘a gorgeous family.’
Leo came to Skibbereen in 1979 to take up a job as the general manager of a precision engineering company on the Baltimore Road that was part of a German multi-national called Starball.
At the height of its production, it employed 53, but when Starball were looking to move the production facility to Eastern Europe, and sell the Skibbereen factory, Leo and his friend, Gerard Lyons, an auditor, took over ownership of the company in 2003 and rebranded it as Prenco Manufacturing Ltd and, together, they continued to provide much-needed local employment, including the 24 jobs that are still there today.
The company has supported the community in lots of ways including its ‘fantastic backing’ of the Welcome Home Week and the Charity Ball in their heydays. Leo also thoroughly enjoyed his involvement with Skibbereen Golf Club, including his term as captain and president.
Mark Werner, who is the production manager at Prenco, said he was proud to work alongside of his father and to be ‘part of his life’s work.
‘He was a good man, a wonderful husband, and father, and he gave everything to us with a smile.’
Mark said Leo fought cancer ‘like a true gentleman. He never complained and, up to his last moment, he bore it all with immense dignity.’