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William M. Nunemaker, the retired owner of a West Toledo laundry and dry cleaning business that remains in the family, died Sunday in Sunset Village, Sylvania Township, where he had lived since December. He was 87.
Mr. Nunemaker suffered from dementia, said Dorothy Nunemaker, his wife of 64 years. She did not know the cause of death.
Mr. Nunemaker retired in 1991 after 35 years with Lincoln Drive-In Cleaners, which he bought after working for another laundry and dry cleaning company.
Even after turning the company’s day-to-day operations over to his sons, he continued to go into the dry cleaners at 3622 Upton Ave. to work the front counter or take cash receipts to the bank, his son, Bob Nunemaker said.
“Dad never really retired. He liked to talk to the customers and help us when he could,” he said. “When he went up front to wait on customers, you suddenly heard the customers start to laugh. He just had a way with them.”
Mr. Nunemaker grew up in the Old West End, where he attended Scott High School. After graduating in 1943, he enlisted in the Navy, which sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for training as an aviation radar technician.
Mrs. Nunemaker said World War II ended before her husband could be posted overseas.
He returned to Toledo, where he was introduced by a mutual friend to the former Dorothy Duffin in 1946, and they married on May 14, 1949.
Mr. Nunemaker attended the University of Toledo for two years while he worked at the former Gallagher Cleaners on Haverhill Drive.
Mrs. Nunemaker said her husband worked in the dry cleaning plant and the owner, John Gallagher, persuaded him that he should take up a career in the dry cleaning business.
He studied at the Kirkpatrick Leather School in 1947 to learn about the solvents and equipment to clean materials. He also went to the National Institute of Dry Cleaning in Silver Springs, Md., in 1949 for additional training.
Mr. Nunemaker left Gallagher Cleaners in 1956 when he purchased Lincoln Drive-In Cleaners.
In addition to dry cleaning clothing such as suits, ties, trousers, dresses, and shirts, the company specializes in leather, suede, fur, wedding gowns, and window drapes.
Mr. Nunemaker was president in 1966 of the Toledo Association of Dry Cleaners.
Surviving are his wife, Dorothy; daughters, Nancy Iagulli and Susan Sofo; sons, William, Robert, and James Nunemaker; brother, Robert Nunemaker; nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Joseph Church, Sylvania.
The family suggests tributes to St. Francis High School Scholarship Fund.
— Mark Reiter