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Published: Monday, 4/4/2011

Russell Manchester: 1925-2011: Auto parts plant owner played piano

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON -- Russell Manchester, who owned an automotive parts factory in Toledo and later in Wauseon and whose lack of a high school education didn't keep him from successfully doing business with Detroit's automakers, died March 28 in his home in Wauseon.

He was 85 and suffered from esophageal cancer for 16 months, said his wife of 47 years, Carolyn.

He and his father, Clyde, ran Sheridan Manufacturing Co., which at one time was one of the largest makers of carburetor float mechanisms in the world, his wife said.

Mr. Manchester left DeVilbiss High School in his senior year to enlist in the Army during World War II.

He was born in Toledo on Aug. 18, 1925.

Despite having a deferment because of his family's manufacturing business, he elected to join the war effort and served in the 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division of Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army.

His wife said Mr. Manchester was away from the fighting during his time in the service.

"He got in toward the end of the war and he ran a mail place. He was in charge of receiving and distributing mail to the soldiers," she said.

He returned to Toledo to assist his father.

The father, who only had a seventh-grade education, was the firm's engineer.

The son was the accountant, even though he had little formal training.

Russell Manchester took some business courses over time, although "he was pretty much self-taught," his wife said.

Father and son "hobnobbed with the leaders of Detroit's auto industry," Mrs. Manchester said.

Mr. Manchester retired in 1987.

Sheridan Manufacturing later became part of the former Sheller-Globe Corp., a Toledo manufacturing firm that was absorbed by Knoll International Inc.

Mr. Manchester, who called himself a bean counter, operated Leatherwood Inc., an investment company, and Leatherwood Farms and Russell Cattle Co.

"His two hobbies were investing in stocks and playing the piano," said his wife. "He was very good at financial planning."

He was self-taught on the piano and would frequently play at the manor house at Wildwood Metropark in Toledo.

He played throughout the area in the Abner Sweet Street Exhibition Band. Ragtime was his favorite type of music, his wife said.

His playing at Wildwood, where his wife volunteered, caught the attention of a film crew, which recorded his music for use in a production on minerals, she said.

At Christmastime for 18 years he helped decorate one of the rooms of the manor house.

Mr. Manchester was involved in the Toledo Orchid Society and in a nature photography club.

He was a 32nd-degree Mason and a member of Zenobia Shrine, the Wauseon Elks, American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He served on the board of the Fulton County Senior Citizens, including as its president.

He was active with the seniors' group for the past seven years, his wife said.

Mr. Manchester made sure his children had the opportunity to get the education he never received, his wife said.

His son and daughter attended a private academy and went on to receive master's degrees from prestigious universities.

"He was determined that his children would have good educations," she said.

Surviving are his wife, Carolyn, son, Wayne, daughter Janine Treu, and three grandsons.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. April 16 at the Rotary Park shelter house, Wauseon.

Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home, Wauseon, is handling the arrangements.

Tributes are suggested to Trinity Lutheran Church, Wauseon.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050



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