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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2003

Hobby shop owner was expert painter of plaster

Barbara C. “Bobbi” Carmichael, who for a quarter century owned a West Toledo plaster and ceramics shop that catered to hobbyists, died of cancer Saturday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. She was 75.

Mrs. Carmichael was proprietor of the Plaster Place on West Sylvania Avenue from the 1970s until about two years ago, her son Lyman “Joe” Bates, Jr., said.

Always enterprising, she and her late husband, Alvin “Hoagy” Carmichael, were inspired to start the business after visiting a hobby shop that sold plaster figures and molds, son Bill “Will” Carmichael said.

“She liked painting. He liked the molds, and it was a good match for them,” Mr. Carmichael said.

The business sold unpainted and painted plaster and ceramic figures, from refrigerator magnets to dogs and lions that stood 3 feet tall.

“If she didn't have the mold and couldn't make [something a customer requested], she would order it from someone who did,” Mr. Bates said.

Some pieces - a figure of a 10-piece jazz band, for instance - became studies in color and detail once Mrs. Carmichael was finished.

“You'd be amazed at the intricacy and the quality,” Mr. Bates said. “She enjoyed helping people get into [the hobby]. She would give private lessons. She would show the tricks of the trade - dusting with powder and fading one color into another.”

She and Mr. Carmichael married in 1963. He died in October, 1982.

“[Mr. Dougherty] did the molds and the pouring and the firing. She did the painting,” Mr. Bates said.

Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, she grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of Central Catholic High School. She sang in operettas and for school functions, ice skated in shows, and played the violin and piano.

She received schooling to become a nurse, but instead married and stayed home to care for her children. She and Lyman Bates married in 1946. The marriage ended in divorce.

She formerly managed the offices of two trucking companies. She later grew African violets - as many as 2,000 of a rare type under lights in her basements - which she sold at club events and craft shows.

“She was a real outgoing person, and she had an assertive personality,” Mr. Carmichael said. “She was a person who would take charge,” he said.

Mr. Bates said: “Everything she did, she did well. She had wit, intelligence, and talent.”

She and Mr. Dougherty bought a recreational vehicle several years ago, and they enjoyed visiting campgrounds near Loudonville, Ohio, and Flint, Mich.

Surviving are her sons, Lyman “Joe” Bates, Jr., and Bill “Will” Carmichael; nine grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

Visitation and services will be private. Arrangements are by the Blanchard Bros. Mortuary.

The family requests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township.



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