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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2003

Shop owner was proud of pattern firms

John F. Erler, a mechanical engineer who owned businesses that made patterns, die models, tools, and prototype parts for the auto, aircraft, and toy industries, died of prostate cancer Thursday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 78.

Mr. Erler, of Ottawa Hills, retired from business in 1992. He began his entrepreneurial career 41 years earlier when he left an engineering sales job and opened a tool making shop on North Detroit Avenue, later moving it to Laskey Road.

As technology changed, the company adjusted. Patterns became models as die-casting gave way to injection molding of plastic pieces, his son, William Erler II said.

“He always prided himself in doing quality workmanship,” his son said.

“He was a great salesman, and he was very personable,” his son said. “He understood the business because his father was in it. He put the understanding of the business together with his sales ability. He was very charismatic.

“He was a likeable guy and grew businesses and enjoyed it. That's what he liked. They just grew,” he said.

Mr. Erler was a graduate of the former DeVilbiss High School. He was a World War II veteran of the Navy, which sent him to Marquette University, from which he received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.

Mr. Erler and his wife, Grace, married Jan. 1, 1950, and to celebrate their 50th anniversary at the dawn of 2000, the family held a reunion in the Cayman Islands.

Surviving are his wife, Grace; sons, Jon Mark and William Erler II; daughters, Karli Sullivan and Carolyn Erler; sister, Mary Houk, and five grandchildren.

Services were private.

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

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