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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2011

Chemical firm co-founder was an opera singer

marian sluhan, 1911-2011

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Marian Sluhan, a co-founder and retired vice president of Master Chemical Corp., one of the largest makers of cutting and grinding fluids, died Tuesday, her 100th birthday, at her home in Wood County's Middleton Township.

She had been in declining health for more than a year, her son, William, said.

She and her husband, Clyde, retired from daily involvement at the Perrysburg firm in 1992. She retired as a director and corporate secretary in the late 1990s.

Her husband was a chemist, and while working for firms in Toledo, Atlanta, and Connecticut, he saw the need for a water-soluble fluid that could cool and lubricate in high-speed metalworking. He found the right combination by mixing chemicals in his wife's pots and pans while experimenting in their Connecticut home.

He founded Master Chemical in 1951 in Toledo, his hometown. The company moved to Perrysburg in 1963. It was a family business from the first, and Mr. Sluhan shared credit for the firm's success with his wife. He took care of the research and education and manufacturing.

"She had everything to do with office operations, human resources," said their son, retired chairman and chief executive. "She seemed to be a very good judge of character.

"She enjoyed people and working with people and assisting when people had problems," their son said. "She was pretty even-keeled, thought pretty logically, and had her priorities pretty much in proper sequence, and was a very kind person."

She became vice president of administration. Her background was as a singer in the Atlanta Opera chorus. She'd taken private voice lessons after attending Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga.

"I really didn't train for the kind of work I do," she told The Blade in 1973. "I taught myself such things as typing, bookkeeping, and other office procedures, which were necessary to know when there were just the two of us starting the business.

"We never run out of things to talk about," she said. "We have so many interests in common, and working with Clyde has been a great education for me in the manufacturing and chemical areas."

She came up with the idea that Master Chemical could play host to scientific seminars on machining and fly in executives from around the country. Her husband and son put together the program. She put together the logistics.

"She delighted in organizing the lunches and the dinners and the breaks," her son said. "She liked to play hostess, and was a gracious hostess."

Her husband was a supporter of conservative and Christian causes, among them the Heritage Foundation, which he helped found. In 1990, more than 450 people attended a dinner at the Toledo Club in the couple's honor for their contributions to Hillsdale College and the Rockford Institution.

She formerly was active in Zonta International.

She read Christian authors, and was a champion especially of C.S. Lewis' writings. She and her husband even spent time at Oxford University in England to study his work.

She was a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Haskins.

She and her husband married Sept. 6, 1934. He died Nov. 6, 1997.

Surviving are her son, William; daughter, Sally Sluhan Wright; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and two step-grandsons.

Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. tomorrow in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The family suggests tributes to Compassion International; Campus Crusade for Christ, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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



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