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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

Co-founder ran janitorial supply firm

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

H. Dorothy Kellermeyer, 96, who with her husband - and $500 borrowed from family - started a janitorial supply business that has remained in the family, died Saturday in Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Formerly of West Toledo and Ottawa Hills, Mrs. Kellermeyer and her late husband, Vernon, made Florida their residence in retirement.

She was healthy, and she lived independently, son Don said.

"Suddenly her heart gave out, and that was it," he said.

A job transfer brought the couple to Toledo from Fort Wayne, Ind., in the 1940s. The owner of the janitorial and paper supply business that employed her husband wanted to sell out, but he couldn't afford it. She advised that he set out on his own anyway and, with a loan from relatives, they began Kellermeyer Co. in 1944 on Monroe Street in Toledo.

"[They] knew they could be successful on their own," said Jill Kellermeyer Kegler, a granddaughter and president and chief executive of Kellermeyer Co., now based in Bowling Green. The firm specializes in cleaning supplies and equipment and packaging products.

"She was always so proud of me and so happy to see the business continue in the family," said Ms. Kegler, whose husband, Greg, is chief financial officer, and executive vice president. "She was committed to the business and helping her husband."

She was the office manager for the firm until the early 1950s. Their young twin sons, Don and Tom, came with her to work and even helped with odd jobs. Eventually they became executives of Kellermeyer, which for a time offered janitorial services too. Don is now chairman of the board, and Tom is vice chairman.

"She was committed to her family," said Ms. Kegler, who is Tom's daughter. "Her best advice was to make sure I had a balance between family and business - and to hire help [at home] wherever I could get it."

After Mrs. Kellermeyer left the work force, she managed the household and volunteered in the community. She was a member of the Toledo Hospital Auxiliary and helped with fund-raising and in the surgical waiting rooms.

She was a supporter of Masonic and Zenobia Shrine activities and was a member of the Ladies Shrine. She also was a member of the Toledo Woman's Club and the Inverness Club.

She was born Oct. 11, 1913, in Granite City, Ill., to Maria and Michael Rousseff, who were ethnic Macedonians from Greece. She grew up in Fort Wayne, where the family moved because of business opportunities and the large Macedeonian community there. She spoke, read, and wrote her parents' language.

In 1952, her husband took their sons to New York City on a business trip. The boys, then junior high age, were chosen as contestants on a TV quiz show and won a trip to Paris for their parents. After Paris, the couple journeyed to her family's home village in Greece. She was the first American-born relation to return.

The couple later traveled extensively and took 45 cruises. At age 90, she went with a group of Macedonian-Americans to the nation of Macedonia, formerly part of Yugoslavia.

"She was the only one who spoke Macedonian, and she translated for everyone," son Don said.

She liked to entertain, and her Macedonian specialities were prized by guests.

"People loved to come to her parties because she was a great cook," son Don said. "She always made people feel welcome. That's a real special trait. I think that's the Macedonian way - you make sure everyone's happy."

Her husband of 68 years died Sept. 5, 2003.

Surviving are her sons, Donald and Tom; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. June 25 in Christ Church United Methodist, Fort Lauderdale, where she was a member.

The family suggests tributes to Hope Lutheran Church, Toledo, where she was a longtime member.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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