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Published: Saturday, 8/11/2001

Busy entrepreneur took time to tend garden

FINDLAY - Robert J. Winkle, 79, an entrepreneur and former telegraph operator, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital of complications from an aortic aneurysm.

Mr. Winkle bought his first small business, the Broadway Sandwich Shop, in the 1950s. He invested in Timber Lanes and Sportsman's Lanes in the mid-1960s, after selling the sandwich shop.

“He was very good with people, and that's important in business,” said his daughter, Terri Gallagher. “He was a people magnate.”

Mr. Winkle's co-ownership of the bowling alleys mirrored his family's interest in the sport. His wife, Gladys, was a professional bowler.

“She could practice really cheaply,” said Karen Himes, Mr. Winkle's daughter.

Mr. Winkle sold the bowling alleys and semi-retired in 1983, before investing in the Four Seasons Flower Shop from 1985 to 1990 with his wife, Ms. Gallagher, and her husband, Joel. Mr. Winkle worked for Findlay city schools since 1996.

After graduating from high school in Continental, Ohio, Mr. Winkle enlisted in the Army, serving in World War II as a radio operator.

He was working as a telegraph operator for Nickel Plate Railroad when he met his wife, who lived in the apartment above his in Findlay. They married in 1949.

While his business ventures kept him busy, Mr. Winkle made time for gardening and caring for the lawn, his daughters said.

“He was meticulous about maintaining the garden.” Ms. Himes said.

Mr. Winkle was an avid whistler. “He was just always happy and whistling,” said Ms. Gallagher. “If I hear somebody whistling, I look over my shoulder to see if my dad is behind me.”

Mr. Winkle was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church, AMVETS Post 21, and American Legion Winnow-Arn Post 541 in Continental.

Surviving are his wife, Gladys; daughters, Karen Himes and Terri Gallagher, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. today in St. Michael Catholic Church-East in Findlay. The Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The family requests tributes to the church building fund.

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