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Published: Tuesday, 2/6/2007

Salesman got start in propane

Gordon F. Anderson, 92, who founded a propane gas delivery business after World War II before undertaking a career in real estate that culminated in a statewide Realtor of the Year award, died Wednesday at the Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center.

The family believes the cause of death was congestive heart failure, his daughter, Pamela Herschel, said.

A Michigan native, he settled in West Toledo shortly after marrying the former Venita Jones in 1937. He had been trained in welding, and worked for Formed Steel Products Inc. and the former DeVilbiss Co. before seizing an opportunity in about 1946 to open his own business, Anderson Bottle Gas Co., as soldiers were returning home from the war, his son, Richard, said.

Located on Monroe Street in West Toledo, the company bottled, sold, and delivered propane gas to area trailer homes. The business housed a giant tank from which Mr. Anderson siphoned the gas into smaller containers for sale.

"He would buy [propane] in bulk and he would put it in these 100-pound cylinders," his son said, who remembers accompanying his father on deliveries. "Then he put them in the back of a Ford pickup truck, and then delivered them when people called for them."

Looking for a new challenge, in 1951 Mr. Anderson sold the gas business and joined his friend, the late Harold Shipman of Shipman Realty Co. on Douglas Road in West Toledo, to begin selling residential real estate.

Mr. Anderson saw a connection between the real estate business and the gas company, his daughter said. The same soldiers who had settled into trailers upon returning from the war and had become his gas customers were upgrading to home buying by the 1950s.

"He had quite the personality, so he was perfect to be a salesman," Mrs. Herschel said. "He loved working with people and talking with people."

Mr. Anderson was enthusiastic and motivated. In the early years of his new career, he often went knocking door-to-door in neighborhoods to find interest in his listed properties, she said.

He went on to work for the Neal Realty Co., and later Crosby Realty in 1965. In 1970 he started at Danberry Co., where he was appointed sales associate along with the late George Kerscher.

Later in the 1970s, he and Mr. Kerscher formed River Glen Real Estate Co. together.

Mr. Anderson was nearing retirement when in 1977 he was awarded Salesman of the Year by the Toledo Board of Realtors, and Realtor of the Year in 1978 by the Ohio Association of Realtors.

"He was very proud," his daughter recalled. "He was so dedicated to being a salesman."

Mr. Anderson retired in 1979, and became an active volunteer with the Feed Your Neighbor program at Pilgrim Church in West Toledo, and also delivered meals to shut-ins through Sunset House.

Surviving Mr. Anderson are his wife of 69 years, Venita Anderson; son, Richard; daughter, Pamela Herschel; two grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Visitation will be after 3 p.m. Thursdayat the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary, 3815 Sylvania Ave. Services are set for 11 a.m. Friday in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Feed Your Neighbor, 444 Floyd St., Toledo, 43620; Swanton Health Care & Retirement Center, 214 South Munson Rd., Swanton, 43558, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio, 30000 East River Rd., Perrysburg, 43551.



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