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Published: Thursday, 5/5/2011

Read 'Skip' Wilcox, 1931-2011: Holland firm's owner served in Korean War

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Read "Skip" Wilcox, whose career was business, whether running the family stores in Ithaca, N.Y., working as a manager at Spartan Chemical in Maumee, or running his own plumbing wholesale firm, died Monday in his Perrysburg Township home. He was 79.

He learned he had cancer March 15, his wife, Marygrace, said.

Mr. Wilcox was owner since the 1980s of Ferguson Supply Co., a wholesale plumbing supply business in Holland. For more than 25 years, he worked closely with contractors and other business owners.

"I could trust him in our business dealings," said Tom Jardine, who owned a plumbing company.

A promotion by his previous employer, Spartan Chemical, brought him to the area in 1982 as a divisional sales manager.

He previously was New York regional manager and a sales supervisor for Spartan, a maker of chemicals for industrial uses and cleaning.

"Skip was one of those individuals, when you talked to him, you knew he had integrity, and you had a lot of confidence in what he was telling you," said Greg Ford, now Spartan's vice president of sales, who also arrived at company headquarters in 1982.

"He could relate to people very well, and he could read them very well," Mr. Ford said. "You knew he was going to be there. Regardless of what happened, he was going to stand behind you.''

Earlier, he joined his father in the family business, Atwaters, a grocery store in Ithaca, N.Y., where he was active in the chamber of commerce and other business groups.

"He and his father were quite prominent," his wife said.

An Ithaca native, he was a graduate of the Manlius School, a military academy, and attended Cornell University. He was in the Navy during the Korean War and was stationed in the Philippines.

A recovering alcoholic, he counseled those who sought his help. Some were leading executives, but "Skip really could keep a confidence. He never divulged anything about anybody, not even to me," his wife said.

Later, after his recovery from prostate cancer, he and his wife counseled couples on treatment options that would not leave the man incontinent or impotent.

He was a member of the Maumee River Yacht Club.

His marriages to the late Marian Burns Wilcox and the late Beryl Udall Wilcox ended in divorce.

Surviving are Marygrace Miller Wilcox, his wife the last 15 years and life partner the last 27 years; son, Michael Wilcox; daughters, Linda Wilcox, Mary Padgett, Marcia Brandon, and Julie Waller; stepson, Joel Miller; sister, Natalee Wilder; 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandsons.

Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, Perrysburg.

The family suggests tributes to the Mark Read Wilder Scholarship Fund at Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y., or the Salvation Army in Toledo.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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