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Gerald N. Biggs, 76, a retired employee relations executive at the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. who was a community and civic leader, died Tuesday in Toledo Hospital.
He’d suffered complications after heart bypass surgery on July 1, his son, Jeffrey, said. Mr. Biggs and his wife, Sue, divided their year between homes in Monclova Township and Lakeland, Fla.
He retired from the glassmaker in 1998, by then owned by Pilkington PLC, as director of human resources, a position he’d held for six years. As director of employee relations the previous four years, he was in charge of negotiations with labor unions at the firm’s North American facilities and oversaw administration of labor contracts.
“He was in management. I was in the factory. It didn’t make any difference” said Robert Sabo, who became a friend through the Maumee Elks lodge. “Gerry was probably one of the straightest guys. He was upfront with whatever he was talking about. And he believed in what he was doing for the company.”
Mr. Biggs was personable and stuck to his principles, his son said. “The most important thing for my dad was his integrity,” his son said. “No was a word. Don’t take it personally. And yes meant yes. ‘If I said ‘Yes,’ across the table, I meant ‘Yes.’ And he stuck with it.
“He was able to compromise and give back and forth,” his son said.
Mr. Biggs went to work for L-O-F in 1960. He became a manager of industrial engineering for the L-O-F Rossford plant. He later was manager of employee relations for the company’s glass division; director of industrial engineering and hourly wage administration, and director of labor relations.
He also had a military career, retiring in 1980 as a lieutenant colonel with the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard based at Toledo Express Airport. He had been executive officer to the group commander. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for meritorious service to the 180th.
He was a former chairman of the Maumee Planning Commission and served as management representative to the Toledo Labor-Management-Citizens Committee. He was appointed to a governor’s advisory council on human resources. As military affairs committee chairman with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, he helped plan air shows at the airport.
“He hasn’t been a guy to sit on the sidelines,” his son said.
He was born Nov. 15, 1936, to Helen and Walter Biggs and grew up in the former Adams Township. He was a 1954 graduate of Maumee High School and in 1959 received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Toledo. He was a loyal UT football and basketball season ticket holder and was a member of the Rocket Club and the Downtown Coaches Association.
He was a longtime board chairman the Maumee Elks lodge.
Surviving are his wife, Suzanne, whom he married Aug. 18, 1956; son, Jeffrey; daughter, Teresa Martin; sister, Kathy Neiman; brother, Thomas; four grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee, with an Elks memorial service scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the mortuary. The family suggests tributes to the Wounded Warrior Project; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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