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Published: Thursday, 3/21/2002

Pharmacist dispensed advice and medicines

Harry Fingerhut, 93, a pharmacist who owned a North Toledo drugstore for 20 years and who worked in a downtown pharmacy for another 20 years, died Tuesday in a Phoenix adult-care facility from complications of a stroke suffered a month earlier.

He lived in Desert Palm Adult Care about four years and in a Phoenix assisted-living apartment for several years before that, his son, Dr. Fred Fingerhut, said.

Mr. Fingerhut owned Fingerhut Pharmacy, 2016 Mulberry St., from the late 1930s to the late 1950s.

“It was like an old-fashioned drugstore, with a soda fountain,” said niece Ann Levison, daughter of Mr. Fingerhut's late brother, Frank. “It was definitely a neighborhood gathering place.”

Customers were greeted by a glass candy case and six or seven stools at a soda fountain along one wall. “You used to take Coke syrup and mix it with seltzer, and that's how you'd get a Coke,” his son said.

Along the other wall were pinball machines; in the center, some general merchandise and, at the back, was the pharmacy counter, where Mr. Fingerhut compounded many of the prescriptions he dispensed.

The pharmacist-owner also dispensed answers to health care questions, usually asked by customers unable or unwilling to see a doctor. “More than for entrepreneurial reasons, he [ran the store] because of his desire to serve people and to interact with people,” his son said.

After 20 years, he tired of the long hours and worked with his brother-in-law, Max Sherman, at M&M Drugs, 901 Madison Ave., around the corner from the Toledo Medical Building. Mr. Fingerhut retired in his early 70s.

Mr. Fingerhut was the first of his siblings born in the United States; his elder siblings and his mother came to Toledo from Romania to join the elder Mr. Fingerhut here. He grew up on Austin Street in North Toledo and was a graduate of Woodward High School.

He was a graduate of the University of Toledo, the only one of his nine siblings to attend college.

He played softball for B'nai B'rith teams and bowled in B'nai B'rith leagues, his son said. He was a proud member of the Raggedy Ass Cadets, a group of children of immigrants, whether Jewish, Polish, or Russian, who settled in near-downtown and North Toledo neighborhoods.

They and their descendants gather annually to tell stories about the old days, and Mr. Fingerhut's visit to the 1993 meeting “was one of the thrills of my life,” his son said. “He was like a kid. People worshipped him.”

His wife, Esther, whom he married in March, 1934, died in 1983.

He was a member of the former Congregation Sharei Zedeck.

Surviving are his son, Dr. Fred Fingerhut; sister, Clara Sherman; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Beth Shalom Cemetery, Oregon, Afterward, the family will receive friends at the Sylvania Township home of his niece, Ann Levison. Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Mortuary.

The family requests tributes to Congregation Etz Chayim, where he was a member.

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