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Published: Wednesday, 6/26/2002

Nurse founded, operated restaurant with husband

ADRIAN - Charleen L. Dempsey, who left the nursing profession to help found and run a well-known family restaurant here, died of cancer Sunday in her home. She was 63.

Mrs. Dempsey was a familiar area figure for many years as manager and co-owner of Dempsey's Restaurant, 4497 North Adrian Hwy., which she and her husband, Michael, started in 1976. She remained on the job until 1998, when she retired because of declining health.

“To the customers, she was known as `Mom,'” her daughter, Loretta Mohr, said. “She was able to remember people's names and what they ordered. She was incredible. Over the years a lot of the customers became friends.”

Mrs. Dempsey entered the restaurant business after 15 years as a registered nurse. An Adrian native, she was orphaned at 16, losing her mother to cancer and her father to a heart attack seven months later. She graduated from Catholic Central High School here in 1957 and put herself through the former St. Vincent School of Nursing in Toledo. She graduated from nursing school in 1960 and married Mr. Dempsey soon afterward. The couple moved to Riverside, Calif., where he was stationed at March Air Force Base.

Mrs. Dempsey took nursing jobs at Riverside Osteopathic Hospital and the Kaiser Foundation, her husband said. She then worked for a couple of years as a nurse in Las Vegas and in Redding, Calif., until they returned to Adrian in 1963. She joined the nursing staff at Bixby Medical Center, where she remained until the founding of the restaurant in 1976. She belonged to St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Surviving are her husband, Michael; daughters, Loretta Mohr, Theresa Case, Elizabeth Flores, and Deborah Lake; sons, Patrick and Duffy; brother, Floyd Marlatt; 19 grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Anderson Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today, with a prayer service at 7:30.

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