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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2008

North Toledo grocer had secret kielbasa recipe

Louis A. Abrass, who with his wife, Genevieve, owned and ran a North Toledo grocery and variety market for decades, died Wednesday in his Waterville home from complications of congestive heart failure at age 87.

He and his wife sold Variety Market at Elm and Austin Streets in the 1980s and retired.

Christmas was one of the market's busy seasons, with family members cranking out thousands of pounds of kielbasa, using a secret recipe Mr. Abrass perfected based on advice from his Polish-American clientele.

The store had a meat counter and sold groceries. It also sold appliances, toys, some clothing, and, at one time, was the leading beer outlet in Toledo, his son Mark Abrass said.

"It was a stronghold for that neighborhood. He employed thousands of kids and people for many years," his son said.

"He was always fair and honest. I watched him follow customers down the street to make sure they were happy," his son said. "I watched him, if people had no money, he'd give them things. He was a big part of the community."

He hired the employees and ordered the goods. His wife kept the books. They worked together to run the store. "He said he was the luckiest man in the world because he could work with his family," his son said.

The store expanded four times. Louis Abrass was a senior at Macomber High School when he started the business as Mary-Lou's, an ice cream parlor in partnership with his sister, Mary.

He was an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II. Color-blindness kept him from becoming a pilot.

His specialty at Macomber was electronics, and that's what he taught pilots at what is now the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

He made 16-millimeter movies of store and family events that were known for their tight direction and visual effects.

He was the first president of the Kappa Chi fraternity, a group of Lebanese-American and Syrian-American men who met regularly beginning in 1938. They continued to meet until the last year or so, his wife said.

Surviving are his wife, Genevieve, whom he married July 7, 1942; sons, Gary and Mark Abrass; daughters, Karen Schultz and Beth Hummer, and 11 grandchildren.

Services will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the Coyle Funeral Home, where the body will be after 10:30 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Salvation Army or the Cherry Street Mission.



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