EDGERTON, Ohio -- Oren H. Elliott, chairman of a manufacturing and machining firm he rescued after a previous owner drained it of cash, died Thursday in Bryan Care and Rehabilitation Center, where he had lived since February. He was 79.
He had heart and other health problems, including diabetes, his wife, June, said.
He was a production manager in the early 1980s for All-Star Products, his employer since 1961, when the company went through a bankruptcy reorganization and sale. But a year later, the bank was so concerned by the new owner's actions that it asked Mr. Elliott to buy the firm.
"He knew the products," said his wife, who is company president. "He was kind of tired of working for other people. He wanted to work for himself. He'd been telling me that for some time."
He agreed, and the firm was renamed Oren Elliott Products, which makes capacitors -- these days used in microchip fabrication and a variety of other sophisticated equipment -- and does machining for companies that supply manufacturers of robotics and food processing equipment.
"It was quite a challenge when we bought it because there was no money there," his wife said. "It was a challenge every day to keep the doors open. We turned it around and got it in the black."
After a heart attack at age 60, he stepped back, and his wife became president. Son Steven runs one of the firm's facilities, and son Matthew runs another.
"He took a lot of pride in his family," son Steven said. "He was really proud of the relationship he had with his employees and the other people he worked with in business."
One lesson Mr. Elliott learned as an All-Star employee was that workers need to be trained for a variety of jobs.
"It's all about the atmosphere you create for your people," Mr. Elliott told The Blade in 2004.
He was gregarious and charming, a student as a young man of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.
"If they cast a movie of him, I think William Shatner would be perfect for that role -- a big bear-hug friendly guy," son Steven said.
He worked on issues of concern to small businesses with the late Paul Gillmor, an Old Fort, Ohio, Republican who was a state senator and later congressman, and Mr. Gillmor's predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Delbert Latta (R., Bowling Green). He also lobbied for what became the westernmost exit on the Ohio Turnpike at State Rt. 49. He was a member of the National Federation of Independent Business.
He was born Nov. 26, 1932, on a farm in Paulding County to Edra and Ward Elliott. He was a graduate of Oakwood High School and attended Ohio State University. He was a stateside veteran of the Army.
He was an All-Star Products employee when he and his wife bought a restaurant in Paulding, Ohio, and then bought a restaurant at the other end of the street "to eliminate the competition," his wife said.
She ran the business, but "he was in there on Saturdays and Sundays, working on the grill and talking to people," she said.
"We thought it might be a little more lucrative than it turned out to be," she said. The couple eventually sold the business. "We didn't do too bad for about four years."
Mr. Elliott was a former president of the Edgerton Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow.
He owned harness racing horses, which were kept on his brother George's farm. His brother did much of the training and racing, including at Toledo's Raceway Park, and he took in the excitement.
"It's like having your own sports team," son Steven said.
He was a member of Edgerton United Methodist Church.
Surviving are his wife, June, whom he married March 25, 1955; daughters Marcia Hernandez, Karen Hurtig, Sandra Elliott, and Patricia Elliott; sons Steven and Matthew Elliott; brothers Leroy and George Elliott; and nine grandchildren.
Services are to be Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the Krill Funeral Home, Edgerton, where visitation is to be today from 4 to 8 p.m. today.
The family suggests tributes to the Edgerton Area Foundation Rotary Scholarship Fund.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.