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Published: Tuesday, 7/30/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Michael E. McWhorter, [1945-2013]; Toledo artist helped start Trolley Trots

McWhorter McWhorter
AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge

Michael E. McWhorter, an artist who designed and built whimsical one-of-a-kind objects out of parts from appliances, old cars, and housewares, died Sunday in Ebeid Hospice in Sylvania. He was 68.

Mr. McWhorter, who lived in West Toledo, died from complications of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his friend, Bonnie Bishop.

He had been a patient in Flower Hospital and taken to hospice about a week ago, she said.

Mr. McWhorter’s career in the local art and design scene dates back to the 1970s when he had owned a studio on Louisiana Avenue in Perrysburg. At the time, he created custom-made furniture out of Plexiglas and also worked in mediums such as copper and wood.

“His love was using his hands and fixing things,” Ms. Bishop said.

He later moved his studio to Adams and 14th streets in Toledo’s Uptown neighborhood.

In an article published in The Blade in 1985, he said he made everything from headboards and dining-room chairs to office display cabinets from Plexiglas. He also filled many orders for windshields for boats, which had long curves.

“Plexiglas can be put into special and complicated curves, which you can’t do with glass,” he said. "It can be sawed, drilled, glued, or screwed together, and shaped many more ways than glass.”

Larry Baumcrots, an artist and electrician who knew Mr. McWhorter for more than 50 years, said he moved from Plexiglas to repurposing discarded metals pieces and objects from appliances, cars, and housewares into whimsical sculptures.

“It was a tough sell in Toledo. It might have gone over well in New York. But Toledo just wasn’t buying it,” he said.

Ms. Bishop said Mr. McWhorter was among the artists who were behind the Thursday Trolly Trots on Adams Street in which TARTA mini-buses traversed UpTown, downtown Toledo, the Old West End, and the Warehouse District.

“He was one of the first artists to do something on Adams Street,” said Joyce Perrin, longtime supporter and organizer of art events.

Mr. McWhorter graduated in 1963 from Scott High School. He graduated with a psychology degree from the University of Toledo.

Surviving are his brothers, Patrick and Brian.

A memorial service will be held later.

The family suggests tributes to Planned Pethood, St. Paul's Community Center, or the charity of the donor’s choice.

— Mark Reiter

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