Paul J. Bertok, who owned Bertok Builders in Walbridge for 30 years, died of complications from Alzheimer's yesterday at the Hospice of Northwest Ohio. The Oregon resident was 74.
Mr. Bertok started Bertok Builders, which designed and constructed residential homes, when he was in his early 20s.
He liked building houses because he could use his imagination to design homes that would make his clients happy, his longtime companion, Mary Lou Lester, said.
He would work with the clients to make changes, never charging them extra, she said.
His daughter, Lynda Bertok, said clients have told her they are still happy with their houses 40 years later. "He was glad to do it for them," she said.
Mr. Bertok started the business after working for another building company for a few years. He quit when he wanted to build a house for his brother and his boss told him to do the job through the company or he would be fired, Ms. Lester said.
Later in life he decided to become a boilermaker so he could have a job he could forget about when he went home, Ms. Lester said. He retired in 1989 after 10 years.
Mr. Bertok was born in Clay Center, Ohio, on Feb. 6, 1930. He played football at Genoa High School, graduating in 1949.
He moved to Oregon in 1987 from Walbridge.
He was a woodworker, pilot, stock car racer, hunter, fisherman, and golfer. "He lived a full life and enjoyed everything," Ms. Lester said.
He won some stock car races, but quit driving after his second child was born.
Although he worked hard, Sunday was reserved for his family, and he included his family in his other activities. He flew his plane to visit relatives and to go hunting and fishing.
He was a member of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Walbridge.
He was married to Nina Claire Bertok for 19 years, and she died in 1969.
Surviving are his companion, Mary Lou Lester; daughters, Lynda Bertok, Paula Pierro, Kay Crouse, and Lisa Oginsky; son, Steve Bertok; brother, Robert Bertok; sister, Margie Kepus; 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
The body will be in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home in Walbridge from 2 to 9 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Jerome Catholic Church. The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, the church, or the Alzheimer's Foundation.