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Published: Saturday, 12/23/2006

Chrysler engineer also built tractors

Donald C. Dominique, 92, a tool designer and engineer in the aviation and automotive industries who on his own designed and built garden tractors and a bulldozer, including the tooling needed to make the equipment, died Thursday in his Monclova Township home.

He'd been in declining health with several conditions, including congestive heart failure and kidney failure, his son Alex said.

Mr. Dominque retired in 1978 from Chrysler Corp., where he was a tool engineer about 12 years at the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg Township.

Earlier, in the 1960s, he ran Dominique Machine Co. on his property, when Monclova Township was country, not suburb.

"He liked to solve problems, and he liked to make things," his son said.

He designed, built, and sold garden tractors in the 1950s. He designed a bulldozer and then built it completely, from fabricating the chain to designing and making the tooling needed to make the dozer.

"He was very creative that way," his son said. "He never called a single repairman."

Mr. Dominique once worked for Tillotson Manufacturing in Toledo and, during World War II, at Consolidated Aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked on the B-36 bomber.

A native of Archbold, Ohio, he and his family moved to San Bernardino, Calif., because of his mother's tuberculosis. She died during the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919. Mr. Dominique was 4.

The family - he, his father, and brother - moved back to Archbold, where his father's parents helped raise the boys. But the whole community helped as well during those Depression days, his son said. "People were generous to him because things were tough, especially without a mother," his son said. "He came to respect that and wanted to emulate that."

Mr. Dominique was a 1933 graduate of Archbold High School, where he played saxophone in his own jazz band and the school orchestra. He took a University of Toledo-sponsored night course in mechanical drawing while blasting rocks in western Lucas County quarries under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration.

Mr. Dominique had a truck-sized garden in Monclova Township, which yielded green beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes, and watermelon for his large family.

Tomato juice was a family project, with an assembly line set up in the yard to wash, quarter, and squeeze the tomatoes through a hand-cranked juicer. Most years, he put up 100 quarts of tomato juice.

Mr. Dominique's first wife, Rita, died in 1947.

Surviving are his wife, Wilma, whom he married in 1949; daughters, Suzanne Bowers, Yvonne Griswold, Veronica Hart, Marie Heinig, Christine Loder, Frances Blendermann, and June Szpytman; sons, Donald and Alexander Dominique; 20 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Services will begin at 10:30 a.m. today in St. Joseph Church, Maumee, of which he was a member. Arrangements are by the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church.



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