Irene E. Tucholski, 84, a Toledoan whose childhood fascination with the beauty and treasures in her mother's garden led her to a career in the commercial flower business, died Saturday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, of respiratory arrest.
As a young girl growing up along Shenandoah Road in Toledo, Mrs. Tucholski watched and learned the intricacies of flower gardening from her mother, Josephine Niezgoda, who kept a large and gorgeous garden in her yard, filled with all varieties of plants, recalled Mrs. Tucholski's own daughter, Laura Phillipps.
When Mrs. Tucholski was old enough to set out on her own, she and a friend, Cas Rzewiecki, founded a flower shop in the early 1940s on Belmont Avenue. They named it Cas and Irene's Flower Shop.
While walking to make a flower delivery one day, Mrs. Tucholski was stopped by a man in a car who was about three years her senior, and who asked if she would like a ride.
The man was Albion Tucholski.
"And the rest is history," her daughter said.
The Tucholskis married in January, 1947, and soon afterward Mrs. Tucholski sold her share of the flower business to Mr. Rzewiecki so she could devote time to raising a family.
Mrs. Tucholski had five children, and by the time they had all entered grade school in the early 1960s, she had decided to re-enter the flower business.
She worked part time for two area flower shops, including Mary A. Warning Flowers, which is located on Broadway, her daughter said.
She retired from flower shops by 1968, but continued to keep an elaborate garden at her family's home on Secor Road as well as an interest in house plants.
"She always said that whenever she went to buy house plants, she would buy the smallest and littlest one because she liked to see them thrive and grow," her daughter said.
The Tucholskis were founding members of the now-closed St. Jude Catholic Church, and Mrs. Tucholski attended both the church's opening Mass in 1957 and its final Mass in 2002, her daughter said.
At the time of her death, she was a member of St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Catholic Church.
Mrs. Tucholski became a devoted caretaker for her husband after he fell ill in 1975 to the rare neurological disorder Shy-Drager Syndrome. She cared for him at their home until his death in 1985.
Mrs. Tucholski was born on Aug. 20, 1922, in Toledo. She graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1939 and went on to spend a year at a Catholic college in Minnesota before deciding to return home to Toledo.
It was soon after that that she and Mr. Rzewiecki made plans for their flower shop.
Surviving are her sons, Michael Tucholski, Steven Tucholski, and Matthew Tucholski; daughters Christina Boggus and Laura Phillipps, and 11 grandchildren.
Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today in the Sujkowski Funeral Home, Northpointe.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Catholic Church.
The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.