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Published: Sunday, 3/23/2003

Clayton lumber yard owner admired for his sales expertise

CLAYTON, Mich. - Allan Milton Townsend, founder of Townsend Brothers Lumber here, died of a heart attack Tuesday at his winter home in Jensen Beach, Fla. He was 92.

Mr. Townsend was a lifelong resident of Clayton. He graduated from Clayton High School before working briefly as a salesman at a local hardware store.

He started a small lumber business in the early 1940s. His brother, Preston, became his business partner in 1945 and they named the firm Townsend Brothers Lumber.

“They had honesty and integrity in their business,” said Mr. Townsend's son, Dale, who owns the firm.

In its early years, the business mainly sold lumber to area residents for home projects. As large chain stores selling home improvement materials moved into the area, Townsend Brothers Lumber switched its focus to selling lumber to industry.

“They were willing to change as the market changed,” his son said.

Mr. Townsend handled sales for the business. He had keen insight into human psychology that made him a persuasive salesman, his son said.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Townsend sold the business to his son.

Mr. Townsend was a member of the Kiwanis Club and Cadmus Presbyterian Church. Many years ago, he sang in the church choir and helped with building maintenance at the church.

He enjoyed hunting and fishing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and loved to fish at his winter home in Florida. Mr. Townsend spent the colder months in Florida for more than 20 years.

He will be remembered for his positive attitude, his son said.

Mr. Townsend and his wife, Alice, were married for 64 years before her death in 2001.

Surviving are his sons, Robert, Dale, Harold, and Gary; brother, Preston; eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Anderson Funeral Home, Adrian, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.

The family requests tributes to the Village of Clayton Community Center/Library Building Fund or Cadmus Presbyterian Church.

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