Rosalie Elsperman Hirzel, who helped operate the Hirzel Canning Co. with her husband, died Tuesday in the Otterbein Portage Valley Retirement Village in Pemberville, Ohio. She was 94.
The family did not know the cause of death, her daughter Marilyn Kozma said.
"She was the matriarch of Hirzel Canning Co.," her son Joe Hirzel said.
In 1935, Mrs. Hirzel married Karl Hirzel, Sr., who had taken over the family company in Northwood in 1933.
For decades, she worked in the factory, fed visiting salesmen, and did whatever needed to be done, all while raising six children.
"It started off very, very small," her daughter said. "She was just right in there when it was new."
Mrs. Hirzel managed the family, the tomato peelers, and other employees. From the time the company was incorporated in 1947 until she retired, she served as secretary, keeping minutes, her son said.
She was hard-working and loyal to the company. She saved her money to buy a new house, but the company needed some farmland and she bought that instead.
"She never did get a new house," her son said.
There were no restaurants around the factory, so when Mr. Hirzel met with salesmen he invited them to the house, where Mrs. Hirzel cooked for them.
During World War II, the plant employed German prisoners and, for years after, the family sent packages to their families overseas.
She retired in 1976 after her husband had a stroke.
Mrs. Hirzel was born July 8, 1910, to Joseph and Alma Elsperman in Toledo. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 1928 with an education degree.
She met Karl Hirzel through a Swiss gymnastics club, and they were married in 1935.
"She was like the city mouse coming to the country," her daughter said.
Mr. Hirzel died in 1991.
Mrs. Hirzel enjoyed singing, dancing, and embroidery. She belonged to the Toledo Swiss singers and the Toledo Swiss ladies society.
Surviving are her sons, Karl, Joseph, and William; daughters, Marilyn Kozma and Rosalie Ann Moore; 20 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren.
The body will be in the Eggleston-Meinert-Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel, after 2 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be in the funeral home at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The family suggests tributes to the Karl & Rosalie Hirzel Penta County scholarship fund or to a charity of the donor's choice.