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Published: Thursday, 8/16/2007

Co-owner a key part of popular eateries

Bernadine LeRoux, 84, who with her late husband, Lyle, owned popular South Toledo restaurants for 40 years, died of heart failure Tuesday in St. Luke's Hospital.

The couple - and Lyle's brother, Ron, also was an owner - were best known for LeRoux's Billyle Supper Club, which operated from 1962 to 1987 at 3527 Glendale Ave.

Billyle came from a combination of the first names of its originators, Bill LeRoux, and his son Lyle. Their first venture, the Billyle Cafe, also on Glendale, opened after World War II. The elder Mr. LeRoux died in 1949.

The supper club opened in 1962. Many times larger and more formal than the original, it was known for its evening and Sunday buffets. But the original was so prized that a replica of the cafe called the Tap Room was built inside the supper club and served as a neighborhood restaurant and bar.

Mrs. LeRoux was involved from the start in supporting roles, her brother Lester Priest said. She worked in the cloak room. She was hostess in the Tap Room, and she made sure table linens were presented properly.

"She more than anything [kept] things running smoothly," Mr. Priest said.

And her friendliness won people over.

"She was a very gracious person," Mr. Priest said.

Former patrons recognized her for years after the restaurant closed.

"Between Lyle and Ron and Bernadine, they knew just about everybody in South Toledo," Mr. Priest said.

The daughter of Viola May and Vincent Priest, Mrs. LeRoux was a graduate of Libbey High School. She was a secretary at National Supply Co. and an operator at Ohio Bell.

She and her husband vacationed in Florida and in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where he liked to hunt and fish. They also took trips to Hawaii and Europe.

"They had their own plane for a while [and] traveled extensively," Mr. Priest said. "Lyle and Bernadine were quite successful in the restaurant business, and it allowed them to do all that."

She liked to golf at the South Toledo Golf Club.

Mrs. LeRoux and her husband married June 1, 1946. He died May 8, 1990.

Surviving are her sister, Betty Markowski, and brothers, Robert and Lester Priest.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Neville Funeral Home Reynolds Corners Chapel, where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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