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Published: Thursday, 4/5/2012

Benjamin A. Padilla, 1930-2012: Civil engineer was partner in The Andersons


Benjamin A. Padilla, a civil engineer and inventor who was among the first from outside the Anderson family to become a general partner in the agricultural firm, died March 23 in his Cold Spring, N.Y. home. He was 81.

Mr. Padilla, formerly of Grelyn Drive, Toledo, suffered a series of ministrokes in the years after a stroke in 2005 caused him to retire from Berlin Steel Construction Co., where he worked in engineering and design about 20 years. He moved in the mid-1980s to Connecticut.

From the early 1970s into the 1980s, he operated Padilla Industries, with offices in Sylvania Township and a manufacturing plant in Toledo and, later, Perrysburg Township. Grain-handling firms were among his customers. He patented a machine to keep grain dust from conveyor systems. His three sons -- Ben, Mark, and Jim -- had roles in the firm.

"He always wanted to work on better ways of doing things," son Mark said. And he wanted to make sure everyone gave -- and received -- his fair share, son Mark added.

"I get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, because he always got up at 5 o'clock and went to the drafting table and started to work," son Mark said. "He was a tough worker and demanded a lot."

Mr. Padilla joined the engineering department of The Andersons in 1961. He became close to Robert Anderson, himself an accomplished engineer. In 1963, Mr. Padilla was named chief engineer and later was manager of the manufacturing division.

"He was an excellent engineer and just a natural leader," Richard Anderson, chairman emeritus, said.

In 1968, The Andersons named Mr. Padilla, Thomas "Sam" Irmen, and Eugene Balk as the first general partners from outside the family. "As far as we're concerned, these people joined the family," then-Chief Executive John Anderson told The Blade.

He was born July 22, 1930, in Tucuman, Argentina, to Luisita and Angel Padilla. He received civil engineering degrees from Universidad Nacional de Tucuman, was a structural engineer in Buenos Aires, and taught university-level algebra. He moved in 1955 to New York City, where he worked and taught himself English before he found engineering work in Ohio. He became a U.S. citizen in 1963.

He was a committed tennis player and belonged to Laurel Hill Swim and Tennis Club; the Toledo Tennis Club, the Toledo Racquet Club, and Belmont Country Club.

He was a former member of Little Flower Church.

He was formerly married to Maria Del Carmen Artigas.

Surviving are his wife, M. Lynne Padilla, whom he married April 8, 1984; sons, Benjamin G., Mark, and Santiago "Jim" Padilla; stepdaughters, Laura Schiele and Electra Bokanoski; sisters, Beatriz Padilla, Susana Marfort, and Maria Ester Padilla Barni; brother, Luis Padilla, and six grandchildren.

Family services will be held in Atlanta and Argentina later this year. Arrangements are by Clinton Funeral Homes, Cold Spring, N.Y.

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

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