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Published: Tuesday, 1/15/2002

Shoe-repair businessman was boating instructor

Martin Z. Wiener, 84, who for three decades ran a national shoe-repair chain headquartered in Toledo, died Sunday in Toledo Hospital. Willa Wiener, his wife of 53 years, said her husband died of congestive heart failure.

A lifelong Toledo-area resident, Mr. Wiener was a graduate of Scott High School. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939. He then joined his father, Herman Wiener, in the management of the family business, National Shoe Service, a repair chain that had retail outlets in each of the 48 continental United States and on many military bases.

Mrs. Wiener said the shoe-repair enterprise began as an offshoot of Universal Glove, a family owned glove manufacturing business. During the Great Depression, many people could not afford to buy shoes, and Herman Wiener saw an opportunity in the increased demand for repairs.

Martin Wiener retired from the business in 1971, and it closed soon after, a victim of increasingly inexpensive shoe prices that caused repair demand to wither. He and his wife then lived full time on their 1,100-acre farm between Lake Erie and State Rt. 2 near Bono. They sold that property in 1994 and moved to Sylvania.

“He loved to talk to people - he would talk your ear off,” Mrs. Wiener said.

Mr. Wiener also followed his father's footsteps in banking.

In 1945, the elder Mr. Wiener joined the board of directors of the Lucas County Bank, which several years later opened a gleaming new main office at 515 Madison Ave.

Martin Wiener was elected to the board in the early 1960s and remained through a succession of mergers that led to its 1974 integration into Huntington Banks. Mrs. Wiener said her husband left the bank board in the late 1980s.

Mr. Wiener took up boating and, for more than 20 years, owned a 47-foot trawler in which he and his wife cruised Lake Erie and the Detroit River.

Mrs. Wiener said after her husband “had a little problem with the boat and was thrown overboard,” he turned to the Toledo chapter of the U.S. Power Squadrons, a boating group, for lessons. He became an instructor for the local group and its commodore.

Mr. Wiener was active as well with the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, becoming chairman of its Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky regional board. He was a life member of Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim and a 32nd-degree Mason who founded the Mariners Unit of the Zenobia Shrine. He was a past chairman of the Midwest District regional board of the Small Business Association.

Mrs. Wiener said her husband was an avid philanthropist and a member of the President's Council of Brandeis University.

Mr. Wiener is survived by his wife, Willa; son, Stephen H.; daughters, Carol L. Wiener, Deborah Kurth, and Marsha Simon; sisters, Virginia Pauker, Helen Korman, and Ruth Swaab, and four grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. A memorial service will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Temple Congregation Shomer Emunim, Sylvania. The Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Tributes may be made to the American Heart Association.



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