Philip George Heintschel, the longtime owner of the Four-E Ranch House restaurant on Airport Highway, died Wednesday of cancer, family members said. He was 69.
Mr. Heintschel and his family operated the Four-E Ranch House for 36 before the restaurant closed last November, his wife, Deanna Heintschel, said.
Owning the restaurant fulfilled a dream for him, she added.
He was born in East Toledo to Vincent and Florence Heintschel and, as a youth, worked for his cousin, Mel Berman, at Mel's Drive In and in Mr. Berman's commissary, getting his first taste of the restaurant business.
After graduating from Central Catholic High School in 1953, where he played football and basketball, he joined the Army and spent most of his four years in military service in Germany.
While on leave, he met Mrs. Heintschel, the daughter of Henry Linck, who owned Linck's Cafeteria.
"It was a blind date," Mrs. Heintschel said. "His brother married a very good friend of mine in high school. He was on leave from Germany. He was very good looking."
Mrs. Heintschel said their experience in the restaurant business was just one of the things they had in common.
They became engaged a year later.
"We were just compatible," Mrs. Heintschel said. "We had the right chemistry. I knew after the first couple of months that he would be the one I would marry, and that would be it. We were both strict, had strong family values, and had an interest in the restaurant business."
The couple was married in 1958, and Mr. Heintschel went to work for Mrs. Heintschel's father.
In 1967, he purchased the Ranch House Restaurant at 3428 Airport. The couple renamed it 4-E, after their daughters, Elizabeth, Elaine, Emily, and Edith. Mrs. Heintschel said the fifth daughter, Erika, came later.
Mrs. Heintschel said she remembers staying home with the girls while her husband worked from opening-to-closing to get the restaurant off the ground.
"That first day, we really didn't know how many customers we would have," Mrs. Heintschel said. "Phil was the cook, baker, and dish washer. Eventually, we were swamped, and they were lined up outside the door."
Mrs. Heintschel said her husband's effort to make home-cooked meals from scratch was the thing that attracted customers and established a loyal following.
The couple were members of the Heather Downs Country Club, where Mr. Heintschel golfed and played cards, but his passion was following the University of Toledo's football and basketball teams. Mrs. Heintschel said they followed the university for the better part of 20 years at home and on the road.
She said a couple of years ago Mr. Heintschel was diagnosed with cancer and he decided to retire.
"He was always there for the girls and me," Mrs. Heintschel said. "He was very outgoing. If he had a dollar and you needed it, he would give it to you."
Surviving are his wife, Deanna; daughters, Elizabeth Hamaker, Elaine Deaton, Emily Meyers, Edith Junkins, and Erika Githens; brothers, Marvin and Paul Heintschel; sisters, Ruth Ann and Catherine Heintschel and Agnes Rasik, and 11 grandchildren.
There will be no visitation. There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the mausoleum at Resurrection Cemetery. Arrangements are by the Sujkowski Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.