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Published: Saturday, 10/13/2012

M. John Uebelhart, 1943-2012: Executive with IBM rose from salesman

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

M. John Uebelhart, whose 30-year career with IBM as a salesman and then a sales executive took him around the country, died Thursday in the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University in Columbus. He was 69.

He had acute myeloid leukemia. He had chemotherapy about a year ago and was in remission for about six months, his daughter Heather said.

“He was able to go down to Florida and have a great, great spring of golfing and really enjoying himself and feeling well,” his daughter said.

He and his wife, Karen, lived most recently in Powell, Ohio, near daughters Heather and Melissa. They moved about five years ago from their home at the 16th hole of the Sylvania Country Club, where he was a board member, to Bonita Springs, Fla., where they spent half the year. They spent the rest of the year at their house on Apple Valley Lake near Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Mr. Uebelhart retired in 1996 after about 11 years as an IBM national sales manager based in Detroit, an assignment that allowed him to live and raise his family in the Toledo area. He started as an IBM office products salesman in the Toledo office. He was consistently a member of the firm’s vaunted “Hundred Percent Club,” meaning he met or exceeded his sales quota, and eventually was promoted to lead a marketing training school in Dallas.

He knew how to sell a Selectric typewriter and other equipment. He didn’t necessarily know how they worked, daughter Heather said. “He was a salesman. He wasn’t a gadget guy,” his daughter said. “My dad was an extremely charismatic and driven individual. He had a strong work ethic and was a very loyal employee, very devoted to his company.”

As Selectrics and their successors gave way to personal computers, he managed IBM branches in Tucson and Toledo and worked in Boca Raton, Fla.

“He was very good to IBM, and IBM was very good to him,” his daughter said.

He was born Malcolm John Uebelhart on Jan. 19, 1943, in Toledo to Verna and Jim Uebelhart. His father was a Toledo radio newscasting icon who was a pioneer television news commentator.

“He admired his dad very much,” daughter Heather said. “He got his work ethic from his father. My grandpa was a driven, strong man with strong opinions, and my dad had strong opinions.”

Their voices were similar, as he was frequently reminded by Toledoans within earshot, even years after his father was off the air and retired to Florida.

“He loved it,” daughter Heather said. The elder Mr. Uebelhart died Oct. 3, 1998.

He grew up on Evergreen Road in what is now West Toledo, just doors away from Karen Kaiser, and they spoke after school on the telephone party line. From the fifth grade, “they were together forever,” daughter Heather said.

He was a 1961 graduate of Whitmer High School and a 1966 graduate of the University of Toledo, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Surviving are his wife, Karen, whom he married June 5, 1965; daughters, Kristy Venner, Melissa Kelly, and Heather Sullivan, and 13 grandchildren.

Services will be at 12:30 p.m. Monday in Gesu Church, where he was a member, with visitation from 10 a.m. to noon Monday in the Walker Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis.

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



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