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Published: Friday, 1/28/2005

'Perfectionist' fixed, installed furnaces

Frederick E. Slates, 75, who founded his own heating and air conditioning business, died Wednesday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, following a stroke.

Mr. Slates operated Maumee Valley Heating & Air Conditioning Co., a small family business, for more than 30 years. The firm concentrated on residential and light commercial work.

"He was a perfectionist," said his wife, Frances Slates. "He didn't like a sloppy job."

He repaired and installed furnaces and air conditioners, handling many of the calls himself.

Older-model home oil furnaces were often messy units to repair, but he would make an extra effort to keep them operating rather than suggest a costly replacement, his wife said.

"He would never tell them they needed a new furnace if there was any way he could save it," Ms. Slates said. "Sometimes, people paid part of their bills with fruits and vegetables."

He enjoyed teaching the trade to relatives, including his son-in-law, Chris Theodorou, who acquired the business about 13 years ago when Mr. Slates retired at age 62. Other relatives started their own businesses.

Mr. Slates "was the most laid-back, patient, noncomplaining man I knew, a man of few words," his wife said. "But when he used his 'Papa voice,' you better pay attention."

He was never one to complain, even after enduring a hip replacement, open heart surgery, and treatment for cancer, she said.

Mr. Slates was a 1947 Macomber High School graduate and later served four years as a radio technician in the Air Force. In his spare time, he enjoyed power boating on Lake Erie, taking trips to Put-In-Bay, and traveling up the Detroit River.

"He loved storms," his wife said. "He always thought he could outrun the storms, and he did."

Little seemed to faze Mr. Slates when he was on the lake. On more than one occasion, he and his guests aboard the boat encountered engine trouble that sometimes meant floating overnight until help arrived.

"The rest of us would be a little worried, but he loved it," his wife said.

Surviving are his wife, Frances; daughters, LuAnne Ramsdell, Patricia Theodorou, Becky Nistel, Rebecca Koepke, and Cynthia Corey; son, Gary Stein; sisters, Phyllis Knopp, Alice Szabo, Marjorie Laytart, and Lois Bower; brother, Charles; 19 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, where the body will be after 3 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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