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Published: Saturday, 2/19/2005

Family farm turned into retail center

Pearl G. Schneider, 99, who with her husband, Herbert, built and ran a successful shopping center on their land after a jury found that their farm animals were a nuisance in what had become a residential area, died of congestive heart failure Thursday in her South Toledo home.

She and her husband farmed and had a John Deere farm equipment dealership at 2050 Byrne Rd. She did the book work and a bit of everything else, her son, Richard, said. "She was a pistol, " her son said. "She had a brilliant mind. She was the most determined woman, honest to God, that I'd ever known."

City living stretched into the country by the late 1950s, and more than 130 acres of their formerly 140-acre farm was sold for residential platting.

The Schneiders still had cows and pigs on the remaining land. That section of the former Adams Township was annexed to Toledo in 1959, and the city filed a charge that the animals were a public nuisance. A jury agreed.

The Schneiders got rid of the animals, but City Council battled the couple's bid to rezone their land for a shopping center. An appeals court ruled in the couple's favor in March, 1963, and work on what became the Schneiders Heatherdowns Village Shopping Center began shortly after at Byrne and Heatherdowns Boulevard.

She handled the bookkeeping and paperwork until they sold the property in the 1980s.

Mrs. Schneider grew up in the Stony Ridge area of Wood County and, by age 10, kept house and cared for babies at area farms.

"She could cook a full-course meal [at age 10] for the hands at the farms she worked for," her niece, Norma Crowder, said.

Mrs. Schneider later worked at Page Dairy.

Her husband, whom she married in the early 1940s, died Dec. 17, 1988.

Surviving are her son, Richard; eight grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Bersticker-Scott Mortuary. The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.

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