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Published: Wednesday, 1/6/2010

Auto repair shop owner sponsored sprint cars

Kenneth Lay, 79, owner for more than 50 years of a Toledo auto transmission business, died Friday in Toledo Hospital.

The cause of death was not known. He'd been in the hospital since an auto accident in November near his Ottawa Hills home. He lived in Sarasota, Fla., and had a lakeside home in Monroe County's LaSalle Township.

He began Lay's Transmission Co. in the 1950s, said his son Jim, a former vice president. He was known for keeping a rebuilt transmission ready on the shelf for every type of car. Customers could have their vehicles back in a day instead of a week, and he often shuttled them to work besides.

"That man truly lived the American dream," said his son Jim, who worked at Lay's Transmission from 1980 to 2000. "He went the extra step. Everything he was involved in was a winner."

Often, he'd just waive the charges on small repairs.

"He liked to serve people," said his son Brad, the owner for about a year but an employee since 1985. "So many people adored my dad."

Autos were an avocation, too. He sponsored championship drag racing and sprint car teams. He collected vintage cars, which he often had a hand in restoring.

He was born May 17, 1930, in Toledo and was a standout basketball player at Macomber Vocational High School. His father, Rein-

hart, ran Fort Meigs Auto Electric in the Warehouse District. He served stateside in the Army during the Korean War.

He and his wife, Betty, married in September, 1956. She died June 20, 1996.

Surviving are his sons, Kenneth James Lay, Jr., and Bradley Lay, brother, Paul Lay, and 10 grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where the body will be after 3 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Toledo, or The Way International, New Knoxville, Ohio.



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