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Published: Friday, 2/2/2007

Greenhouse owner also ran family eateries

Dale A. Hecklinger, 80, who with a brother and cousin owned and operated Hecklinger Greenhouse Inc. on Seaman Street in Toledo for many years, died Wednesday from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Hecklinger ran the seven-acre Hecklinger greenhouse complex from the early 1940s until turning it over to his son Mark in 1998.

That was a year after the elder Mr. Hecklinger's brother and business partner, Donald Hecklinger, who retired in 1993, died.

"He took care of the business end of the business," Dale's wife, Martha Hecklinger, said. "He did the buying and selling [And] he was a people person."

In retirement, Dale Hecklinger helped his son operate the family business, which dates to 1913, when Dale and Donald Hecklinger's father, Al, together with his brothers, Oscar and Edward, founded the company next to the family home on Seaman.

Don and Dale Hecklinger and their cousin Robert Hecklinger grew up learning about the business until they gradually took it over. At that time, the business focused on growing hothouse tomatoes and lettuce.

During the 1950s, the brothers opened one of the first drive-in restaurants, called Dale and Don's Restaurant, on Navarre Avenue in Oregon. They operated it for six years, then tore it down to build a restaurant they sold several years later.

In 1971, the Hecklingers switched to bedding plants, which the company now sells wholesale, primarily to garden centers in the East.

Dale Hecklinger was a member of Heritage Christian Church, Oregon.

Surviving are his wife of nearly 50 years, Martha; sons, Edward and Mark; daughter, Cathy Burson; sisters, Magdalene Fischhaber and Marjorie Bollinger, and 10 grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Heritage Christian Church. The body will be in the Eggleston-Meinert-Pavley Funeral Home, 440 South Coy Rd., after 2 p.m. Monday.

The family suggests tributes to the church, Alzheimer's Association, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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