Donald E. Spalding, 1930-2012: Meat cutter rose through ranks to store vice president


Donald E. Spalding, a grocery bagger in his uncle’s store who became a meat cutter and worked his way to a vice president’s post at the former Seaway Food Town, died Saturday in his Oregon home. He was 81.

He had lung cancer, his sons said.

He retired in early 1993 after 18 years as vice president of meat operations and 44 years with what was essentially the same company.

His uncle Wallace D. “Wally” Iott, opened a grocery store in 1941. Mr. Spalding’s mother and an aunt worked for their brother. Mr. Spalding, who attended Central Catholic and DeVilbiss high schools, began as a bagger. After his 1948 graduation from DeVilbiss he became a clerk in the meat department.

An advertising cooperative formed in 1948 among five grocers — Mr. Iott among them — became Seaway Food Town in 1957 and grew into one of the state's largest supermarket chains, with Mr. Iott at the helm.

Mr. Spalding rose from meat cutter to meat manager at several Food Town stores. In 1960 he was promoted to meat supervisor of all stores.

Mr. Spalding in 1964 was put in charge of buying and merchandising meat for the chain.

He was appointed to a new post, director of meats, in 1967 and was named vice president of meat operations in 1974.

He was good with customers and motivated workers, Mr. Iott told The Blade, and his attention to detail was key to his success.

“He had a list of what he wanted to do, what he had to do,” his son Doug said. “He was meticulous. He was organized.”

At home, he didn't talk much about his job. He liked to play cards and “he really enjoyed the life outside on the water,” his son Doug said. He taught his children to sail and was a member of Toledo Beach Marina and the Harbor View Yacht Club. He was a founding member of the Great Northern Sportsmen’s Club in Bedford Township and for decades was a duck, goose, and pheasant hunter. He and his wife, Donna, also traveled the world.

He was born Nov. 13, 1930, to Cecelia and Edward Spalding. He was formerly married to the late Janet Spalding.

Surviving are his wife, Donna, whom he married Sept. 17, 1983; sons, Jeffrey and Douglas Spalding; daughters, Leslie Kott and Sue Hughes; stepsons, John and Mike Greene; stepdaughters, Roxanne Gordon and Diane Haynes; 24 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are to be at 11 a.m Saturday in the Walker Funeral Home, where visitation is to be from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, with a recitation of the Rosary at 7 p.m. Friday in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or the Ursuline convent in Toledo.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.