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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

UT plant manager restored Corvettes

Richard Barnes VanLandingham, Jr., retired physical plant director at the University of Toledo, who restored and showed two Chevrolet Corvettes and who, with his family, did most of the construction on his Rossford home, died Sunday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 63.

Mr. VanLandingham died of Alzheimer's disease, and also suffered from multiple sclerosis during the final 18 years of his life, said Adelaide C. VanLandingham, his wife of 38 years.

As physical plant director at his alma mater, Mr. VanLandingham was in charge of all non-educational operations at the university, except for security and later transportation, from 1982 until 1995. Before that, he held facilities management positions at National Cement Products, St. Luke's Hospital, and Toledo Scale.

Mrs. VanLandingham said those jobs kept her husband constantly on call, and he once cut short a vacation at the family's ski cottage in Petoskey, Mich., to address a repair emergency at the university. While he delegated some tasks, she said, "he felt that if he could be there, he could make better decisions."

During construction of his house in 1974, his wife said, "everyone who came by got drafted to do something." Only the excavation, foundation, heavy framing, plumbing, and wiring were done by contractors, she said.

A Toledo native, Mr. VanLandingham graduated from DeVilbiss High School. In 1966, he received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from UT, where he was a distinguished cadet in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.

After a year of graduate school, Mr. VanLandingham opted to enter active military duty and was sent to Germany as an ordnance officer, a role in which he oversaw repair of weapons and equipment. He served three years in the Army before returning to Toledo to work as a production engineer at Toledo Scale in 1970.

Mrs. VanLandingham said her husband's biggest regret was his decision to sell, before going overseas, a white 1966 Pontiac GTO he'd customized. He replaced all the car's gauges and installed titanium locks to protect them from theft, she said, and lined its trunk with white carpeting.

He later restored 1966 and '69 Corvettes. The older one has been sold, but the latter will be passed on to his daughter, Alisa, who helped him work on it, Mrs. VanLandingham said.

Surviving are his wife, Adelaide VanLandingham; son, Rick VanLandingham III, and daughters, Rachel and Alisa VanLandingham.

There will be no visitation, and a private memorial has been held. The family suggests tributes to the hospice or the Wood County Humane Society.



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