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Published: Saturday, 6/21/2008

Tireless mom of 6 helped run grocery

Charlotte Vellequette, a devoted mother of six who opened an independent grocery store with her husband, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital after a yearlong battle with ovarian cancer. She was 73.

Mrs. Vellequette and her husband, Roger, ran the former Vellmar's Five-Star Market, a grocery store in the 4600 block of West Bancroft Street from 1976 until 1993. She managed the store's bakery and deli.

Mrs. Vellequette, formerly Charlotte Grodi, was born and raised in Toledo. She graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1952 and wed Roger Vellequette the next year. The family moved from Toledo to Ida Township in 1969. They had five children by the time Mrs. Vellequette was 25, and a sixth child seven years later.

Relatives said Mrs. Vellequette ran the house with grace and tireless energy. When a child needed a ride home, Mrs. Vellequette hopped in the car. When the sofa's fabric had worn through, she reupholstered it.

"It was probably everything she could do to raise six kids," her daughter, Patty Duvall, said. When the Vellequettes opened the market in 1976, most of the children had graduated from high school. Some worked at the store with their parents. The store closed in 1993. Mr. Vellequette told The Blade at the time that chain supermarkets and big-box retailers had cut into their business.

Two of Mrs. Vellequette's daughters took some equipment from the store to start a bakery in Ida. Mrs. Vellequette joined them as a baker.

Mr. Vellequette said his wife loved helping customers. At the market, she would take special food orders or advise customers on how to cook a cut of meat, he said. At the bakery, farmers would come with freshly picked rhubarbs and ask her to bake them rhubarb pies.

Mrs. Vellequette enjoyed playing euchre and poker, fishing, dancing, and traveling.

She particularly enjoyed Christmas, building a Christmas village in her basement, and spending months picking out presents for the family.

Relatives said Mrs. Vellequette always looked out for her family. She couldn't sleep until she knew all her children were safe, her daughter, Judy Notario, said.

Surviving are her husband, Roger; daughters, Karen, Patty Duvall, Susan Albring, and Judy Notario; sons, Jim and Larry, a Blade business writer; sisters, Jenny Scott and Arlene "Pinky" Ortman; 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Bedford Funeral Chapel, Temperance, where a Scripture service will begin at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be 11 a.m. Monday at St. Anthony Church, Temperance, where visitation will be an hour before the service.

The family suggests tributes to St. Anthony Church or to a charity of the donor's choice.



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