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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2011

Theodore R. Spangler, 1919-2011: Success of family firm came first for ex-chairman


BRYAN -- Theodore R. Spangler, chairman emeritus of the candy company his father founded, who led the way to the purchase of the brand that became its signature -- Dum Dum -- died Wednesday in CHWC Bryan Hospital. He was 92.

He was in declining health the last seven weeks, his daughter Drew said.

He was an Army captain in World War II, serving in the South Pacific, when in 1945 his father, Arthur, drowned while fishing. He joined the Spangler Candy Co. and became sales manager and later president, chief executive, and chairman.

The best gamble the firm ever made, current Chairman Dean Spangler told The Blade in 2006, was to buy the Dum Dum brand in 1953 from Akron Candy Co. and, in 1954, the largest U.S. candy-cane maker, A-Z Candy.

"Ted was the driving force in both those transactions," Dean Spangler said. "[He] was absolutely the greatest influence on our company over the last 50 years. He put the company first, and its success and its general health was more important to him than any personal financial reward."

A member of the fourth generation, Kirk Vashaw, is Spangler chief executive. He became president in 2008, and Mr. Spangler threw a party for 200, finding it a better reason to celebrate than the firm's 100th anniversary two years earlier, "because it ensured this business can go on for another generation. That was huge," Dean Spangler said.

Community service was both avocation and duty. He helped found the chamber of commerce and was a past president. Other leadership roles included serving as president of the Bryan Area Foundation and as a member of the Bryan Board of Education.

He never moved from Bryan, not even wintering on some sunny coast. "He was so committed to the family and community," his daughter Drew said.

He was born Jan. 17, 1919, to Helen and Arthur Spangler. He was a graduate of Bryan High School and the University of Michigan. He was awarded a Bronze Star in the Army.

He and his wife, Doris, married April 28, 1950. She died April 13, 2003.

Surviving are his daughters, Blair Spangler and Drew Faulkner, and three grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 3-7 p.m. today and 2-6 p.m. tomorrow in the Oberlin-Turnbull Funeral Home, Bryan. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in First Presbyterian Church, Bryan, where he was an elder.

The family suggests tributes to the Bryan Area Foundation.

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

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