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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Salesman was active with local Democrats

Donald Kelly, 82, a linen supply salesman and Democratic Party activist who with his wife, Dolores, owned an East Toledo women's clothing shop, died Sunday in the Goerlich Center at Flower Hospital. He had dementia and suffered from kidney failure, his daughter, Monica Dansack, said.

An Oregon resident for 37 years, he retired in June, 1994, from the state auditor's office. The previous 11 years, he was a regional representative and examined the lottery accounts of stores in 17 counties of northwest Ohio.

Most of his career was in sales, first for Pheasant Linen, then its successors, Toledo Towel Supply and Midwest Linen. As he did later for the auditor, he called on businesses - although then it was bars and restaurants and barber and beauty shops - and got to know the owners and workers.

"He liked meeting people, that was a known fact," his wife, Dolores, said. "He was a real honest fellow."

His daughter added: "He was a very optimistic, outgoing person."

In 1962, he and his wife opened Kelly's Fine Fashions on Main Street in East Toledo. The next year, their daughter was born and the couple's mothers and friends helped in the shop.

"When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and work in the dress shop," their daughter said. "I loved all the women's clothing. It was a fun place to be."

He was a firm believer in neighborhood stores, his wife said. And as an east side native, his belief in the neighborhood led to a seat on the board of River East Economic Revitalization Corp. The fortunes of small shops fell as malls proliferated, and the couple closed Kelly's in 1977.

He was a former Lucas County Democratic Party precinct committeeman and in 1994 received the party's lifetime achievement award. He helped with the successful 1989 Oregon mayoral campaign of his son-in-law, Michael Dansack.

In 1959, he was a driver for Harry Truman when the former president visited Toledo to address a meeting of the Young Democratic Clubs of America.

Mr. Kelly, whose father was a captain on the Great Lakes, spent high school summer vacations as a deckhand on freighters. He left Waite High School his senior year to enlist in the Army. He guarded prisoners of war in the Philippines at the end of World War II. Years later, he received a high school equivalency diploma.

He was a former president and charter member of the Oregon chapter of Public Employee Retirees Inc.

Surviving are his wife, Dolores, whom he married Nov. 10, 1956; daughter, Monica Dansack; sons, Donn and Matthew; sisters, Joyce Lyons and Nancy Dubuc; brothers, Stewart and Franklin, and a granddaughter.

The body will be in the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel, after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Sacred Heart Church, of which he was a member. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio; Sacred Heart Church, or Cardinal Stritch High School.



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