C. Kenneth Rusch, of Sylvania Township, president of the former engineering and electronics firm he and his stepbrother founded, died Monday in Flower Hospital from complications of a stroke. He was 69.
He and his stepbrother, Lyle Sheckler, began their business on Ottawa River Road as a retail concern in the early 1950s that sold appliances, Mr. Sheckler said.
They began K&L Electronics around 1960 at Summit and 128th streets with the intent of being consulting engineers.
The brothers had a diversified background, on purpose, Mr. Sheckler said: Mr. Rusch received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Toledo, but had industrial engineering jobs with the Electric Auto-Lite Co., General Motors Corp., and the Ford Motor Co. Mr. Sheckler is an electrical engineer.
"We started small," Mr. Sheckler said.
The firm engineered and built inspection equipment and control panels for business and industry. "But if someone in the neighborhood had a television to fix, we'd fix it," Mr. Sheckler said.
Mr. Rusch left Ford by the early 1960s to devote full attention to K&L, of which he became president. The firm built a plant in 1967 in the Fort Industry Industrial Park on Enterprise Boulevard.
At its peak, K&L had 20 employees and built test equipment for the automotive industry and other businesses and did endurance and environmental testing for those industries, Mr. Sheckler said. Manufacturers hired the firm as consultants to draw up concepts for equipment.
Besides being in charge, Mr. Rusch often did a lot of sales work, piloting his private plane, with his brother aboard, to businesses around the Midwest.
"He'd be talking with anyone from the draftsman to the controller of the company," Mr. Sheckler said. "He would not cheat anybody. His code was, 'My word is my bond.' He was fiscally conscious."
Mr. Rusch's son, Kenneth, said; "He liked the contact with people and building rapport with them. He had no false pretenses. Customers appreciated that."
The brothers closed the business and retired in 1996.
Mr. Rusch grew up in North Toledo, a hard-scrabble childhood spent near Ontario and Bush streets. He was 18 months old when his father left, and neighbors looked after him as his mother found work outside the home to support the family, his son said.
He always remembered where he came from, whatever his success, his son said. He belonged to the Toledo Club and the Toledo Yacht Club, and was a financial supporter of the Salvation Army, the Mildred Bayer Clinic for the Homeless, and St. Paul's Community Center.
"[He believed that] people shouldn't be hungry and go without," his son said. "If you're fortunate enough, pass it on."
He was a graduate of Woodward High School, where he played clarinet and saxophone in school bands. He later played with bands that performed at former Teen Town events.
Mr. Rusch was an instrument-rated pilot and was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
He was a past president of Salem Lutheran Church and a former property chairman of the Grace Lutheran Church council.
He was a member of Olivet Lutheran Church and played in its golf league.
He and his wife, Betty, spent winters in Cape Coral, Fla., and the couple liked to travel.
Surviving are his wife, Betty; whom he married July 12, 1952; daughter, Pamela Roshong; son, Kenneth; stepbrother, Lyle D. Sheckler, and five grandchildren.
The body will be in the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Olivet Lutheran Church.
The family requests tributes to the Salvation Army, the Mildred Bayer Clinic for the Homeless, or St. Paul's Community Center.