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Published: Thursday, 9/29/2005

Builder, developer enjoyed working with his hands

Jim Marsrow, 85, a Toledo homebuilder and developer who primarily built single-family houses and renovated older dwellings, died Tuesday in his North Toledo home.

Mr. Marsrow died of complications from chronic obstructive lung disease, relatives said. He had been in declining health for about five years.

Daughter D'Orcie Marsrow Jablonski said Mr. Marsrow was a modest man who didn't let on to his family that he'd attended college until they found his diploma from the University of Detroit, where he majored in architectural engineering.

"He acted like he never even went to high school," the daughter said.

In 1942, he entered the Army, where he held the rank of specialist and had a variety of assignments during World War II. For a while, he worked with a demolition team that blew up floes off the Alaska coast to deprive Japanese submarines of cover.

After his 1946 discharge, Mr. Marsrow began working with his father, a developer but not a builder, on residential subdivisions around the Toledo area, including one in Sylvania Township - Central Avenue Park - that includes a street that bears the family name.

"Jim liked to work with his hands," said Bernadine Marsrow, Mr. Marsrow's wife since 1949. Also, she said, "He always had a soft touch for the underdog."

In 1955, he obtained a real-estate broker's license, after which he began buying, renovating, and reselling houses.

Mr. Marsrow maintained his family's own home on a 96-acre tract on State Line Road, north of what would become North Towne Square.

Cropland on the property was leased to others, "but he loved to get out and do some tractor work," Mrs. Marsrow said. He also raised tomatoes and vegetables in a garden.

When he was coming in for the night, Mr. Marsrow had a cheerful whistle that his wife said could be heard "from a half-mile away."

Surviving are his wife, Bernadine Robie Marsrow; son, Christopher; daughter, D'Orcie Marsrow Jablonski, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Sujkowski Funeral Home, Northpointe, where visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

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