Edward J. Nowak, Sr., 84, a Toledo optician who worked tirelessly to help people who were blind or vision-impaired, died Sunday in the Fairview Manor nursing home after a long battle with a rare form of Parkinson's disease called corticobasal degeneration.
A longtime owner of Nowak-Morey Opticians, Inc., Mr. Nowak was known as “Mr. Candy Day” for helping organize candy sales events for the Lions Club, raising money for rehabilitation of the blind, conservation of sight, and eye research.
“My dad was a people person. He did everything to help people. That was his main goal in life,” said his son, Chris Nowak.
A native of Toledo, Mr. Nowak began his association with Toledo opticians while he was a student at Woodward High School.
“He used to ride a bicycle and deliver eyeglasses,” his son said.
Soon after graduating in 1938, Mr. Nowak enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., where he graduated from Officer Training School.
During World War II, he was stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., where he served as a military policeman with the provost marshal's office, tracking down AWOL soldiers, his son said.
It was at Fort Stewart that he met his first wife, Arnell, who was an office worker. The couple were married from 1943 until Mrs. Nowak's death of a heart attack in 1963, Chris Nowak said. He married his second wife, Ruth, in 1967.
After the war, Mr. Nowak became a professional optician, working at a Toledo laboratory before opening Nowak-Morey Opticians with John Morey in 1962.
“He was a master guild optician,” Chris Nowak said. “He knew all phases of the business.”
Mr. Nowak was instrumental in the founding of the Eye Center at St. Vincent's Hospital in 1973, his son said.
A 40-year member of the Lions Club, Mr. Nowak was a past president of the organization, served on its board of directors, and received its highest honor, the Melvin Jones Award.
“He had so much energy, I could hardly keep up with him,” Chris said. “It's amazing how many people he helped. When he retired about 12 years ago, there were 2,000 people at the retirement party.”
Mr. Nowak enjoyed bowling and boating and was a member of the Riverview Yacht Club. He also was a member of the American Legion, Post No. 335, and St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Catholic Parish.
Surviving are his wife, Ruth; daughter, Dianne Bamford; sons, Edward J. Nowak, Jr., and Chris Nowak; sister, Helen Michalski, and eight grandchildren.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Bersticker Scott Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Scripture services will be held in the mortuary at 7:30 tomorrow night.
The family requests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Toledo Animal Shelter, or the Welfare Fund of the Toledo Host Lions Club.