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Published: Sunday, 6/11/2006

Business exec, lawyer noted for sharp wit

Harry W. Day, 84, a lawyer, police prosecutor, and export-import executive who ran for Toledo City Council and the General Assembly, died of congestive heart failure yesterday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Day, formerly of Oregon, lived the last 1 1/2 years in Swan Pointe Care Center, Monclova Township. For about 20 years in retirement, he lived in his native West Virginia.

He and the late Lewis Combest formerly had a general law practice in the Spitzer Building in downtown Toledo. Mr. Day retired after a stroke in the late 1960s.

His law practice was wide-ranging, from writing wills to representing people who'd been in traffic accidents, his daughter Linda Day-Mackessy said.

Mr. Day once defended a sunbathers club in Providence Township against charges of nudism.

"He loved the intellectual challenge of law and certainly he liked to win," his daughter said.

He was police prosecutor for the city of Oregon in the 1960s.

A Democrat, Mr. Day ran unsuccessfully for Toledo City Council in 1957, for state representative in 1964, and for state Senate in 1966.

"He was just very interested in law and the political process, and he felt he could contribute," his daughter said.

A native of Filbert, W.Va., Mr. Day was a graduate of Gary, W.Va., High School and of Berea College, Berea, Ky.

Mr. Day was a graduate of the University of Toledo law school.

"He was extremely bright, so I think the people who grew up with him in West Virginia and his teachers said, 'You should be a lawyer.' He had a high IQ and did very well in school," his daughter said.

He was a civilian inspector of naval armaments during World War II.

He went to work at the former Willys-Overland Export Corp. and, in 1952, was promoted to finance manager. He was later president of the Great Lakes Export-Import Corp., formed in the 1950s in anticipation of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"He was looking for an opportunity to help Toledo, and it was related to the port, and to further the growth of Toledo," his daughter said.

In earlier years he liked to ride horses - he once held the horse-riding concession at Pearson Metropark - and to fish.

"He was very quick, and he had a sharp wit," his daughter said.

"If you were talking to him, you really had to keep up."

He was a former president of the Oregon Democratic Men's Club.

He was formerly married to the late Betta Berti Day.

Surviving are his sons, Mark, Matt, and Paul Day; daughters, Nita Day Clere and Linda Day-Mackessy; and eight grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow in the J. Jeffrey Fretti Funeral Home. Services are pending in West Virginia.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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