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Published: Saturday, 12/10/2005

Blissfield Canning owner built company, operated it 4 decades

BLISSFIELD - George Allen Waigle, 88, who owned and operated the former Blissfield Canning Co., died of respiratory failure Dec. 1 at his home here after a long bout with heart disease and emphysema.

Mr. Waigle owned and operated Blissfield Canning for 40 years until the late 1990s, when he closed the business and sold the plant.

His daughter, Phyllis Cornell, said he designed and built the factory himself.

"Money was very tight and he was raising a family of four children and a wife," Mrs. Cornell said. "He did not have the capital for architects and engineers, so he borrowed some money and did it on a shoestring, doing everything himself."

Prior to that, Mr. Waigle was a washer at the Waigle Canning Co. owned by his family in Pigeon, Mich., and later a manager at Home Canning Co. in Blissfield.

A Pewamo, Mich., native, he had graduated from Pewamo High School.

"He was real hard-working," his son, James Waigle, said. "And he enjoyed being around a lot of people and having fun."

An avid hunter and fisherman, Mr. Waigle hunted deer in Michigan and elk and mule deer in Montana and Idaho with his sons. He also fished with them throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He was particularly successful at fishing for perch and walleye on Lake Erie, his son and daughter said.

He also enjoyed cooking.

Over the last few years, Mr. Waigle spent most of his time caring for his wife, Gertrude, who he married in 1941. Mrs. Waigle suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She died in April.

Surviving are his sons, James and Bill; daughter, Phyllis Cornell; sister, Maxine Waigle Anderson Roehrs; five grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at a date yet to be determined. Arrangements are by the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Lenawee.

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