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Published: Friday, 12/20/2013

Robert J. Greenler; 1924-2013: Expert in auto, float glass ran plants, had 20 patents

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Robert J. Greenler Robert J. Greenler
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Robert J. Greenler, a mechanical engineer and a Ford Motor Co. manager who became expert in the manufacture of auto glass, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township, after complications of Crohn’s disease. He was 89.

Mr. Greenler of Perrysburg Township returned to his native northwest Ohio in 1979 to became assistant to the president of Glasstech Inc., who happened to be his brother-in-law, Harold McMaster, a noted scientist and inventor once dubbed “the glass giant” — and the company co-founder.

“Dad had a lot of connections with the glass world,” daughter Joyce Houtteman said.

As an executive with the Perrysburg-based firm, Mr. Greenler traveled the world to sell Glasstech furnaces, then helped refine the manufacturing process so it could meet the orders. “He was a catalyst,” son-in-law Robert Houtteman said.

Mr. Greenler stayed with Glasstech about five years. Afterward, he was a consultant and served as an expert witness in patent cases. He had experience in that endeavor: He was responsible for 20 patents in float-glass manufacturing and in glass tempering and bending.

His skill in things mechanical dated to his boyhood on a farm near Florida, Ohio. He recently told his daughter, “When you’re on the farm, you want to make sure the equipment keeps running, because if it breaks, it’s a lot of work to haul it into town to get it fixed."

After stateside Army Air Corps service in World War II, he attended the University of Toledo, receiving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Early on, he was a process engineer for General Motors Corp. and a design engineer with Libbey-Owens-Ford. Employed by Kent-Owens Machine Co., he supervised the building of equipment for Ford Motor Co.’s Nashville plant. Ford then hired him.

In 20 years with Ford, he served two stints as the Nashville plant manager. That was his favorite job, his daughter said. He became staff operations manager of Ford’s glass division in Dearborn, Mich., and was responsible for engineering, research development, and quality control for all Ford glass plants, including those in Europe.

Guns and gunsmithing were longtime interests. In retirement and from his basement machine shop, he helped other hobbyists by making repairs and fashioning parts, such as left-handed screws for World War I-era weapons. He was a competitive skeet and sporting clay shooter. He was a student of military history and the Old West and dressed in period attire as a member of the Single Action Shooting Society. He restored a World War II Jeep and drove it in Memorial Day parades.

He was a member of the National Rifle Association, the Adams Conservation Club, and American Legion Post 28 in Perrysburg.

He was born Aug. 21, 1924, to Nellie and Carl Greenler and was a 1943 graduate of Holgate High School.

Surviving are his wife, Ramona, whom he married Aug. 24, 1944; daughters, Patricia Cotten and Joyce Houtteman; sister, Norma Dison; three grandsons, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. today in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, where services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

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



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