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Published: Thursday, 9/10/2009

Food firm exec kept machinery humming

Harlan R. Getman, 86, whose mechanical know-how allowed a local firm to turn out ice cream treats at a clip of several hundred dozen an hour, died of cancer Tuesday at Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Getman, of Sylvania Township, was vice president, general manager, and a part-owner of the former Vroman Foods, of West Toledo, which supplied millions of frozen novelties to thousands of stores nationwide.

He was hired by founder Robert Vroman in 1954. He was a consultant after the firm was sold in the 1980s to General Mills. He retired in 1989.

"He knew the ins and outs of every machine. He had patents on many of them," his daughter Jill Turner said.

He was a former technical council president of the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers.

Mr. Getman was born March 15, 1923, on an upstate New York dairy farm. He liked the science and mechanics of the dairy farm, but not the farming. He was a graduate of Cornell University, where he majored in dairy science and refrigeration. He worked for the Page Dairy Co. in Toledo about five years, recruited to that family business by a Cornell classmate, Arnold Page.

College life was interrupted by Army service in Europe during World War II. He was a second lieutenant.

In recent years, he traveled the world with his close friend, Margie Rusgo. He exercised regularly at a health club until earlier this year. He also took digital photography classes and built computers.

"I thought he was brilliant," his daughter said. "He was very humble and didn't want to be the center of attention."

He and the former Nancy Dowling married April 16, 1956. She died Jan. 11, 1997.

Surviving are his daughters, Lori Van Allen and Jill Turner; brother, Leland Getman; sister, Aleta Huston, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Walker Funeral Home, where the body will be after 1 p.m. Saturday.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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