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Published: Saturday, 11/5/2005

Developer famed for postwar homes

Roger G. Dunbar, 96, founder and president of a real estate business that made its mark by developing subdivisions and building homes for returning World War II veterans and their new families, died Thursday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

The cause of death was not known, but he had been in poor health recently, said his stepson, Frank Szymanski, who is vice president of Dunbar Real Estate.

Mr. Dunbar never retired, his stepson said, and the two men consulted daily.

"He was very helpful to me until the end," Mr. Szymanski said.

The firm in recent years has concentrated on managing its existing properties, including its Toledo area apartment buildings and shopping centers, including the Monroe Street Market Square.

But for more than 30 years, beginning in the late 1940s, Mr. Dunbar developed subdivisions that included about 5,000 homes.

"He specialized in economy-priced homes for GIs and in the last 12 months an estimated one of every seven dwellings built in Toledo was a Dunbar," said a news report in August, 1950.

Mr. Dunbar's aim was to provide affordable housing to as many people as he could, Mr. Szymanski said.

"We still use that in our advertising for apartments. That was important to him," Mr. Szymanski said.

Mr. Dunbar formerly owned Dunbar Insurance and Toledo Home Mortgage.

He was born in Gary, Ind., and grew up in Monroe County. Early on, he sold items door to door. He began his real estate business in 1941. He was in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II and served in Europe.

For about 20 years, he owned a farm near Brooklyn, Mich., where he grew grapes for wine he made. He fished for bass and pike in the 7-acre lake he created there. He was a Mason and a Shriner and supported the YMCA's Camp Storer.

He was a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church.

"He was very much a gentleman," Mr. Szymanski said. "He respected other people and wanted people to respect him, and he deserved it, of course. He was very educated and intelligent and was always trying to improve."

Surviving are his wife of more than 30 years, Florence; stepdaughters, Glenn Ann Anteau, Irene Rose, and Audene Taylor; stepson, Frank Szymanski; sisters, Vivian Hartman, Elberta Foster, and Beulah Emerrick, and 12 grandchildren.

Visitation will be private. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in the Reeb Mortuary, Sylvania.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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