Gertrude L. Lubell, a former aide in the Lucas County prosecutor's office whose fashion sense and garment industry background inspired an avocation making knitted items, died Friday in Flower Hospital of respiratory failure. She was 85.
Mrs. Lubell, a longtime West Toledo resident, lived the last three months in Arbors of Sylvania, her son, Robert, said.
She was born Dec. 24, 1926, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Libbie and Wolf Flaum. Her father was a tailor and much of the family worked in the garment industry. He became a manager of a Toledo coat factory, and the family relocated in 1942.
She was a 1944 graduate of Scott High School. She had ideas about women's wear she wanted to share, but unlike others in her family, "she was more interested in the retail aspects of fashion, as opposed to the construction aspects."
While in high school, she worked for a Toledo department store. She took fashion merchandising courses at the University of Toledo. Later in the 1940s, she and her husband moved to Cleveland so he could attend professional school. She worked at William Taylor Son & Co., a leading department store.
Her specialty became assembling a wardrobe for women working in business and law offices. "She always wanted to be the designer. This was her ability to be the designer," her son said. Although she hadn't designed the articles of clothing, "she had the vision of putting together the merchandise that was there and having somebody leave with her vision," he said.
The couple returned to Toledo and, inspired by her department-store clients who were lawyers or worked in law offices, she interviewed for a job in the prosecutor's office. She was hired in 1950 and worked for Joel Rhinefort and his successor, Harry Friberg. She was trained in clerical work, "and then she grew to be able to take on tasks dealing with briefs and other legal documents," her son said.
When women who'd been beaten by their husbands came to the office for assistance, "she would help them find jobs, help them find safe spots," her son said. "She was very compassionate, anyone who ever had an issue, she would adopt it as if it were her own issue."
She became a homemaker and stay-at-home mother after her son was born. Later she was known for designing and knitting garments for friends and family members.
"If you could knit it, she made it," her son said. "She was always in demand."
In the 1960s, she was on the local board of the American Cancer Society when Dr. Rexford Hardin started a fund-raising tournament that brought to Toledo such golf luminaries as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Lee Trevino. She was active in anti-smoking campaigns and helped raise money for research.
In the 1980s, she helped her friend Barbara Goldberg at Luxury, a gift shop in the Ottawa Hills Shopping Center.
She formerly managed gift shops at the Collingwood Temple and The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim.
Surviving are her husband, Lynn, whom she married June 27, 1948, son, Robert, daughter, Kathy Badger, and a granddaughter.
Services are to be today at 1 p.m. in the Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to Chabad House-Lubavitch or The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim, where she was a member.