Hafiz A. Nassar, 86, a former owner of the Bassett Nut Co. who moved the company into a new headquarters and opened retail outlets and a leader in his church who helped oversee details of the move into a new structure, died Tuesday in Flower Hospital, Sylvania.
He was in the Lake Park nursing care facility on the Flower campus the last two months, his nephew Fred Nassar said. He had heart and other health problems.
He and his brother Nabih owned Bassett Nut until the early 1980s. Hafiz Nassar was first affiliated with the business in 1949, when he moved to Toledo from his native Kfeir, Lebanon. A 1970 Blade article about Mr. Nassar and the business said he was credited with the distribution of Bassett nut dispensers in Toledo bars in 1953.
There was a family connection, anyway. The firm was started in 1928 in a garage on Magnolia Street by Sam Bassett - who was a distant relation from the same village as the Nassars. Bassett Nut later moved to Morris Street.
Mr. Nassar bought the business in 1963 and, in 1966, moved Bassett Nut to a new headquarters at 43 South Huron St. In 1971, his brother Nabih came aboard to handle finances. That same year, Mr. Nassar opened the first of his Nuttime stores in the Franklin Park Mall, offering nuts - roasted, toasted, diced, or slivered; packaged or bulk - as well as domestic and imported candy.
A Nuttime outlet followed in 1975 at the Southwyck Shopping Center. In 1976, he opened Nuttime No. 3 at the Spitzer Arcade "in the belief in the ultimate revival of the downtown Toledo area," Mr. Nassar told The Blade then.
"They were the only ones in Toledo that sold nuts fresh from the roaster," his nephew Fred said. "He was known as the 'nut man.'"
His nephew Samir Nassar said: "I can tell you one thing; my uncle was tough when he had to be, and he was very soft if he had to be soft. He knew how to deal with people. That's what made him very successful."
Mr. Nassar's first foray into business was as owner of Nassar Garden Land & Landscape at Byrne Road and Dorr Street. In the postwar home-building boom, he did landscaping for many developers, nephew Fred said.
He joined St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church when he settled in North Toledo and the congregation was at Huron and Mulberry streets. By the late 1970s, as members moved westward, church leaders planned a move as well to Harroun Road in Sylvania.
Ground was broken in 1977; construction began in 1978; first services were held in 1979, and an official dedication was held in 1980.
Mr. Nassar was president of a nine-member church council and oversaw details of construction and the move.
"He was a shrewd guy, really," his nephew Samir said. "He didn't have much of an education, but he knew what it takes to build a business and a church."
He was a golfer, and he liked to spend time in retirement with family members and friends.
"I took him as a father to me," nephew Fred Nassar said. His father, the late Michael Nassar, and Hafiz Nassar were brothers. "He had a big heart and loved people and his church and his family."
Mr. Nassar was born Feb. 24, 1924.
Surviving are his wife, Julia, whom he married in 1951, and his brother, Nabih Nassar.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Sylvania. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the church.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: