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Published: Sunday, 10/21/2001

Television salesman later owned appliance store

LUNA PIER - Eldin Irwin, a pioneer in Toledo television sales who sold appliances and furniture from his South Avenue store and, later, took machines that made molded plastic toys to state fairs around the Midwest, died Friday in Toledo Hospital from complications of a stroke suffered in March. He was 78.

He was in poor health since late last year, his wife, Ethel “Rose” Irwin, said. The couple bought a cottage in Luna Pier in 1953 and moved there in the late 1960s.

Mr. Irwin owned the former Better Homes Appliance Co., founded in 1948 as a television repair service. He didn't have a showroom at first, so he sold TVs by going door-to-door.

When he began to sell appliances from the store - televisions, washers, and dryers -“sometimes people would come to the store early and watch TV shows until midnight,” his wife said.

The store later offered freezers and specialty furniture and was a postal substation.

“He made a success of it,” his wife said. “He was that type of person. He liked to work for himself. He wanted to do things his way.”

Daughter Peggy Parran said: “He was very independent. He always knew he could figure anything out.”

He was the first president in 1952 of the Toledo Retail Appliance Dealers Association, formed to adopt standards for retail appliance outlets.

Better Homes Appliance was in business through the mid-1970s, when chain stores that offered big discounts by selling in volume captured customers.

Mr. Irwin again went into business for himself. He bought a type of vending machine that makes molded plastic toys and figures to order - piggy banks, Mickey Mouse, dinosaurs, presidents' heads - and he and family members traveled to state fairs and other events to set up Mold A Matic.

He translated his frequent ideas for figures that could be made with the machine into plaster molds. From the molds, aluminum casts were made for use in the machine.

“He was always thinking of new things,” his daughter said.

Three of his children own and operate Mold A Matic ventures in California and Florida.

Mr. Irwin was born in Metamora and graduated at 16 from Metamora High School, his wife said.

He was a Coast Guard radio technician during World War II and was stationed in Alaska.

He received training as a tool-and-die maker and got a journeyman's card, but he instead learned to fix televisions - even before television came to Toledo, his wife said.

The couple spent winters in Tavares, Fla., for many years and, in January, 20 family members joined them on a Caribbean cruise.

He enjoyed gambling, whether in Las Vegas or on the stock market, his daughter said.

Surviving are his wife, Ethel “Rose,” whom he married Nov. 6, 1943; daughters, Judy Surerus, Nancy Leslie, and Peggy Parran; sons, Thomas and James; sisters, Noreen Dickson and Betty Jean Monahan; seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Michael W. Pawlak Mortuary, Temperance, where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The family requests tributes to the Luna Pier fire department.



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