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Published: Monday, 3/19/2007

Sales exec was volunteer at hospital for 2 decades

Gene F. Gebolys, 83, of Perrysburg, a retired sales manager for Whirlpool Corp. who volunteered to teach adults how to read and his family how to water ski, died Friday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg.

Born in Detroit, Mr. Gebolys was a salesman and regional sales manager for Whirlpool Corp., in Benton Harbor, Mich., for about 20 years, retiring in 1988. During his career, he was named Whirlpool's National Salesman of the Year in 1967.

Before joining Whirlpool, he was a salesman for the former Mainline Distributors, Philco, and Shea's Appliances, all in Toledo.

After retiring, Mr. Gebolys was a volunteer instructor for Read for Literacy for several years. "He taught adult men how to read," said his daughter Debra Gebolys. "Dad so valued education," she said, noting that she and her brothers didn't have any choice: "We all had to be college graduates. After we were all done with school, Dad and Mom started to teach reading with Read for Literacy. It was a very cool thing."

In addition, Mr. Gebolys was a volunteer at Toledo Hospital for two decades. He decided to volunteer at the hospital after suffering a heart attack in 1986. "He thought he was going to die then," his daughter recalled. When he survived quadruple bypass surgery, "it changed him pretty dramatically. He went back to work, and shortly after, he volunteered at Toledo Hospital. He was so grateful for those doctors who saved his life," she said. He battled heart disease for about 20 years.

Mr. Gebolys was a staff sergeant in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, and he earned 15 decorations for action in China, New Guinea, and in the Western and Southern Pacific.

Active in church work, he was a Eucharistic minister and 24-year member of St. Joan of Arc Church, and he was a 33-year member of Gesu Church where he served as the head usher.

His favorite hobbies were connected to water - he loved boating and skiing. In the Gebolys family, "if you were 7 and didn't know how to ski, that was just unforgivable," his daughter said.

Her parents met in 1948 during a dance at Devils Lake; she needed a ride back to Toledo, and he offered to take her home. At that time, he was living in Toledo, too. They were married two years later. Through the years, the family spent time at their cottage at the lake.

Mr. Gebolys also enjoyed tennis, bridge, sporting events, and traveling, but his favorite activity was spending time with his family.

Surviving are his wife Eleanor; daughters Terese Gustafson, Glenna Feller, Debra Gebolys, Kathy Copeland, and Beth Pihl; sons James and Gene J. Gebolys, and 13 grandchildren.

Services will begin at 9:30 a.m. today in Coyle Funeral Home on South Reynolds Road, followed by the funeral Mass at St. Joan of Arc Church at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to St. Joan of Arc Church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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