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Published: Sunday, 11/11/2012

Beatrice Denman, 1918-2012: Bookkeeper ran office for family building firm

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Beatrice Denman, who for 67 years kept the books — and office — in order for the family company that was a leading home builder and developer of apartments, died Friday in Toledo Hospital. She was 94.

She died of complications from aortic dissection, her son, David, said. She first reported symptoms Thursday. She’d been with a luncheon group of Libbey High School alumni that day. On Wednesday, she got together — as she did often, for cards or Scrabble — with friends Dorothy Frey, 92, and Millie Bockbrader, 103.

“She was constantly in motion,” her son said.

Mrs. Denman of South Toledo retired in September after the dissolution of Biniker Construction Co., founded by her father, Basil Biniker, Sr. Her brother, Basil, Jr., later was president of the firm and was a member of the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission. He died in 1988.

When her children were young, “she did the books at home on the kitchen table,” her son said. The last decade or so, she was at the office three hours a day, long enough to pay bills and pick up messages.

“That’s something that got her going every day,” her son said.

Her father was a carpenter, and the business began in earnest after her brothers Basil, Jr., and Bernard returned from military service in World War II. Veterans were starting families, and the Binikers built houses during that post-war boom. But they also developed apartments and offices and commercial strips, said her son, who worked at Biniker for about a decade.

“She never had a computer,” her son said. Her bookkeeping was done with precision by hand in ledgers.

“She had to close the books and balance to the penny and have every receipt,” her son said. “She knew where all the money was and how to do the books properly.

“She was a very stubborn lady, and she was right the majority of the time,” her son said. He added, “She was supportive, and if she could help you, she would help you.”

An Internal Revenue Service audit once yielded the firm a $75,000 check from the federal government, her son said.

“That’s how up front she was,” her son said.

The job was more than numbers. She got to meet all sorts of people — from tenants, including residents of the firm’s hundreds of apartment units who stopped by to pay the rent, to suppliers. When the company’s construction activity slowed in recent years, those suppliers still stopped by to visit and to take her to lunch.

“She enjoyed being busy, and she enjoyed people,” Mrs. Frey, her friend, said.

She was born May 17, 1918, to Bertha and Basil Biniker. She grew up near Broadway and South Avenue and was a graduate of Libbey High.

She learned bookkeeping at what is now Stautzenberger College, which her late husband, Donald, also attended. Early in her career, she worked for Brooks Insurance Agency and Modern Pattern.

She was a longtime member of the former First English Lutheran Church, where she was council president, and most recently attended St. John’s Lutheran Church. She and other members of Lutheran churches in the old south end, past and present — First English, St. John’s, St. Lucas — got together regularly for lunch, Mrs. Frey said.

She was a member of Order of the Eastern Star.

She and her husband spent several weeks in winter at their place in Largo, Fla. Later she and Mrs. Frey went out of town for stage plays and took river cruises to view the fall colors.

She and a group from First English, all widows, started their get-togethers for cards and other games because “we decided we had to do things on our own,” Mrs. Frey said. “After you lose your husband, you know, you have to find entertainment and life goes on.”

Mrs. Denman and her husband, Donald, married before his Army service in Europe during World War II. He died Dec. 15, 1985.

Surviving are her daughter, Donna Henniger; son, David Denman; brother, Bernard Biniker; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Services are to be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Bersticker-Scott Funeral Home, where visitation is to be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The family suggests tributes to Lutheran Social Services or Toledo Seagate Food Bank.

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



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