Terry Niswander, 1943-2013: Jewelry store co-owner was a Corvette fan


FINDLAY — Terry Nis-wander, president and co-owner of a downtown Findlay jewelry store his father founded and a skilled goldsmith, died Saturday in Blanchard Valley Hospital. He was 70.

He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which worsened over the last year, son Kraig said.

He continued to work at Nis-wander's Jewelers.

“He liked the interaction with people. He made a lot of friends and associates, being in business for over 50 years,” his son said. “He really enjoyed what he did.

“Dad was extremely gifted and able to work with gold and metal,” his son said.

He designed and made rings — engagement and wedding rings were specialties — and other jewelry. He could set or remount diamonds and other precious and semiprecious stones. And the shop offers watch repair.

“He did all of his repairs in-house, one of only a few jewelry stores in northwest Ohio who did,” his son said. “He was proud to be able to serve his customers [and] their complete needs. He could do it all.”

Born March 22, 1943, in Findlay to Colleen and Vilas Niswander, he was a 1962 graduate of Findlay High School, but he had worked at the store from his early teens.

“He would go in and apprentice with my grandfather,” his son said. And in the distributive education program at high school, his real-life work experience was at the jewelry store.

Once a full-time employee, he concentrated on jewelry creation and repair, while his father dealt with time pieces. Both made sales.

“Terry idolized Dad,” said his brother Barry, who is vice president and co-owner of Niswander’s.

Mr. Niswander also learned business lessons from his father, who’d learned from the misfortune of his father, a building contractor who suffered great loss in the Depression.

“Terry was dedicated, and he loved the business, and he sacrificed,” his brother said. “He was a genuine sustainable capitalist. He was not a complainer. He was a doer.”

Their father worked at Niswander’s into his 80s. He died June 10, 2003.

The business will remain open, Barry Niswander said.

Mr. Niswander had various handy pastimes. He liked to fix up houses — painting, even installing cabinets. He grew a vegetable garden annually. His sons’ first vehicles were “project cars,” not flawless new models. Beauty took work.

“He loved doing body work. We would spend hours sanding cars and get them ready and then we’d paint them,” son Kraig said.

Mr. Niswander became a Corvette devotee. His first was a blue 1958, while his twin brother, Jerry, had a red 1962. A series of models followed, and he kept them in immaculate condition. He especially admired his twin’s red-on-red 1977 Corvette. Jerry died in 2003. As a birthday surprise in 2007, Mr. Niswander's sons bought him a new red-on-red Corvette, “to give him something to remember his brother by,” son Kraig said. They took him out to dinner, and when he emerged from the restaurant, he spoke admiringly of the Vette parked in front.

“We threw him the keys and said, ‘It’s yours,’ ” son Kraig said. “He melted like butter.”

Mr. Niswander was a veteran of the Ohio Air National Guard and was based at Toledo Express Airport.

He was a member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.

He and his wife, Frances, married Oct. 25, 1963. She died Oct. 7, 1999.

Surviving are sons Kraig, Keith, and Kristoffer Niswander; brothers Larry and Barry Niswander, and five grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay. The family suggests tributes to Blanchard Valley Hospital.

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