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Published: Thursday, 11/16/2000

Magician was `a master of the manipulative art'

Paul Gretzinger, 61, a former teacher and professional magician, was found dead Monday in his West Toledo home.

He died last week, Joe Inman, a Lucas County coroner's investigator, said. Mr. Gretzinger had heart problems and emphysema, his son Matthew said.

Mr. Gretzinger grew up in North Toledo and was a graduate of Woodward High School and the University of Toledo. He taught high school English during the 1960s in Cleveland. But magic occupied much of his life after he took a class at the former Boys Club near Superior and Orange streets in downtown Toledo.

He performed at parties, nightclubs, weddings, and theme parks around the Midwest for more than 40 years. “He did a real fine act, a silent act,” magician Frank Radtke, a classmate from the Boys Club, said. “He was real good at manipulation - like card-fanning and cigarette manipulation. He was one of the few people who did manipulation and wore gloves when he did it.”

Dave Simons, owner of Simon Studios, a magic shop, said: “Paul was a perfectionist. He was a master of the manipulative art. He would be able to do things with cards that very few could do. He was one of the best in the country.”

He also was respected as a teacher. He gave lectures and led seminars, but counseled magicians personally. “If you would ask him an opinion, he would go in depth with you to help whatever you were doing be better,” said Myron St. John, a professional magician and secretary of the Society of American Magicians, Assembly 105, of which Mr. Gretzinger was a member.

Mr. Gretzinger was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 68.

“He loved performance. He liked mystery. He liked entertaining people,” his son said. “I think he was happiest when he was making people happy, and he was really good at that. He was very good at being himself in front of audiences.”

Mr. Gretzinger portrayed Ronald McDonald during the 1980s in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

He volunteered for more than two years with Seniors Teaching and Reaching Students, known as STARS, and tutored second through fourth grade pupils at Oakdale Elementary School.

“He was very helpful and kind and considerate, and the children liked him a lot,” Jan Bissonette, STARS coordinator at Oakdale, said.

Mr. Gretzinger worked to make people aware of bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, a condition with which he was diagnosed. He took part in boards and associations and wrote poems and plays, some of which were read publicly.

Surviving are his sons, Steve and Matthew; daughter, Sue Seiler; mother, Dorothy Gretzinger; sister, Alice Selby; brother, George, and four grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Arrangements are by the Strabler Mortuary. A memorial gathering will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday in Simon Studios, Toledo.



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