FINDLAY - Albert J. Ball, who owned and operated as many as six McDonald's restaurants in Findlay and nearby Ohio cities after working earlier as a personnel manager for several Toledo-area businesses, died Sunday in his home. He was 76.
Mr. Ball died in his sleep, and the exact cause was unknown, said his wife of nearly 54 years, the former Ruth Huston.
Mrs. Ball said her husband "always wanted to be in business for himself" and seized the opportunity when friends put him in contact with a McDonald's franchisee in Findlay who wanted to sell his restaurant.
Mr. Ball moved his family south from Toledo in 1971 to take over the restaurant, and he soon acquired other McDonald's outlets in Kenton, North Baltimore, Ottawa, Fostoria, and a second Findlay location, she said.
He operated the restaurants under the name of Ball Management Corp. He eventually sold the Kenton and Ottawa locations to others. Then, in about 2000, he split ownership of his remaining four restaurants between his two sons.
Even after officially retiring from Ball Management in 2003, he maintained an office where he helped with bookkeeping. He also kept in touch with the family business via computer and fax machine while wintering in Sarasota, Fla., Mrs. Ball said.
"He loved it so. He never regretted that decision" to buy the restaurants, the wife said.
A Toledo native, Mr. Ball graduated from Central Catholic High School and was studying business at the University of Toledo when his Ohio Army National Guard unit was activated in September, 1951. He was sent to Germany to work as a clerk-typist at U.S. headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.
After his April, 1953, discharge as a sergeant, Mr. Ball worked in production control and then personnel for Toledo Stamping while resuming his college education at night. He graduated from UT in 1957 and worked for the Burndy and Teledyne corporations in Toledo and the Bathey Division of Armco Steel in Plymouth, Mich., before buying his first McDonald's franchise.
Mrs. Ball said her husband donated to many charities once his restaurant business took off.
"His father had died when he was 5, so he didn't have very much growing up," she said. "He always said that if he succeeded, he wanted to share it."
Mr. Ball was also active with the Findlay Rotary, the United Way of Hancock County, and the Findlay-Hancock Chamber of Commerce, and was a past president of the Ohio Association of McDonald's Operators.
In his free time, Mr. Ball enjoyed golfing. He was a member of the Findlay Country Club and a club in Bradenton, Fla.
Mrs. Ball said she and her husband maintained friendships from Central Catholic, which she also attended, though the couple didn't begin dating until Mr. Ball was in college.
Surviving are his wife, Ruth; sons, Lawrence and Albert Ball, Jr.; daughters, Carol Oken, Laura LaPlant, and Ann Karhoff; sister, Ruth Brown; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
The body will be in the Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home, Findlay, after 6 p.m. Sunday, with a Scripture service at 8 p.m. Monday. Services will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church-East in Findlay.
The family suggests tributes to the church or to the Little Sisters of the Poor Sacred Heart Home in Oregon.