LIBERTY CENTER, Ohio — Barbara Romaker, who brought artistry to cake-making and whose creations enlivened weddings, retirements, graduations, and parties, died Wednesday at home in Henry County’s Washington Township. She was 85.
The cause of death was not known. She went through a rehabilitation center after a recent fall but was swimming in her pool at home two weeks ago, said her daughter Janet Romaker Quinn, a Blade staff writer.
Mrs. Romaker was proprietor of the Flour Shoppe, her home-based business in the 1970s through the mid-1980s. She made her first wedding cake in 1956, when her brother Kenneth Russell got married. She found a class she took later to be unfulfilling, and so she taught herself the intricacies of decorating.
“I learned from the books,” she told The Blade in 1979, “but you really learn from the trial-and-error method.”
Her distinctive cakes suited occasions and recipients. When The Blade acquired a new phone system, she made a phone-shaped cake.
“You could hardly tell the real one from the replica because the cake was so precise,” her daughter said. A turtle-shaped cake went to a woman who made turtle soup; a restaurateur got a stand-up Tiffany-style lampshade.
“Her wedding cakes were stacks of perfection,” her daughter said. “You could tell that love went into every motion.”
Her cakes won ribbons and honors at county fairs in Henry and Fulton counties. She lost some eyesight in the 1980s and decided to close the business rather than risk having a customer get a less-than-perfect cake.
She also was a force behind a fund-raising project at her church, Colton United Methodist, in which she and other members made thousands of creme-filled chocolate eggs for Easter.
Mrs. Romaker also helped on the family farm and with the family’s turkey business. When her husband, Charles, retired and began a woodworking business, she was company vice president and kept the books and, from time to time, worked in their Grand Rapids, Ohio, furniture stores. She also was a seamstress and quiltmaker and, as her children grew up, a scout leader.
Born Dec. 11, 1927, to Louise and Donald Russell, she was a graduate of Swanton High School. She had a record of enterprise. At age 11, she set up a stand at her parents’ place to sell strawberries she picked. She became an adventurer in her 60s, taking hot-air balloon rides around northwest Ohio.
“It’s magical,” said her daughter, whom she persuaded to go along, “and she caught the bug.”
She and her husband married Dec. 12, 1946. He died July 31, 2009.
Surviving are her son, Steven; daughters, Janet Romaker Quinn, Rebecca Romaker Trenchik; eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Wright-Habegger Funeral Home, Liberty Center, where services will be at 2 p.m. Monday.
The family suggests tributes to Colton United Methodist Church.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.