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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

Charles H. Stark III, 1935-2012: Architect designed Valentine's restoration

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Charles H. Stark III, 76, a principal in what was one of Ohio's oldest architecture firms who was chief architect and designer in the restoration of the historic Valentine Theatre in downtown Toledo, died Feb. 24 in a Sarasota, Fla., hospital.

He was admitted to the hospital after choking on food while dining out, family members said. He had Parkinson's disease and suffered several strokes.

Mr. Stark of Monclova Township was last affiliated with SSOE, the architecture and engineering firm, and retired several years ago. In 1999, he announced the closing of his firm, Bauer, Stark & Lashbrook. He was associated with the firm, then Bellman, Gillett & Richards, in high school and college. He was hired full time in 1959 by what had become Richards, Bauer & Moorhead.

The firm, founded in 1892 by George Stafford Mills and Harry Wilcox Wachter, was responsible in Toledo for the Commodore Perry Hotel, the downtown YMCA and YWCA buildings, the Ohio Building, the Toledo Club, the Safety Building, and the National Exchange Club headquarters. Later the firm took on projects at the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, what was then the Medical College of Ohio, and at institutions across the country. Mr. Stark designed All Saints Church in Rossford.

A project that made an especially big splash was the Valentine, brought back to splendor for its 1999 grand reopening. The theater was dark and in disrepair in the 1980s, when its champions saw possibility in the ruins and worked to muster public support -- and funding.

"Charlie was a fine architect and a very good person to work with," said Rey Boezi, Valentine project manager. "He stuck with us through all the years it took to finance the Valentine. When you see the Valentine Theatre, you see Charlie Stark's work there."

Multiple uses were in mind for the space -- theater, instrumental and vocal music, dance.

"I don't care what they call it," Mr. Stark, an acoustics expert, told The Blade days before the gala opening. "I designed an opera house."

Joe Vetter, a protege who became a partner in Bauer, Stark & Lashbrook, said: "He took ownership of anything he designed in that way."

"He was pure," said Nancy Stark Cooper, his former wife. "He did everything the way he thought it should be done and was very successful at it."

He was born in Cleveland to Verna and Charles H. Stark, Jr., an architect and inventor for Owens-Illinois Inc. He was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School. In his sophomore year, his design of a park shelter house won a competition sponsored by the Toledo chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He later was chapter president.

He was a 1959 graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in architecture. He joined the firm where he would spend his career in a cooperative study program while at DeVilbiss. He became an associate of the firm in 1963, a senior associate in 1967, and a partner in 1971. The firm changed its name in 1978.

His grandson John Stark, 29, became a structural designer and is employed by A&A Engineering in Sylvania Township.

"I got it from him," his grandson said. "I saw him all the time at his house, sitting at his desk and drawing stuff. It inspired me to go and do what he was doing."

Surviving are his sons, Matthew and Adam; daughter, Jennifer Fullman; sister, Patricia Robbins; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial services are pending at All Saints Church, Rossford.

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



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