James J. Staczek, founder of two companies and inventor of an award-winning work platform that reduces assembly line injuries, died Friday at home in his sleep on his 77th birthday.
Mr. Staczek died of natural causes, his family said.
The lifelong Rossford resident marketed and later designed hydraulic and pneumatic industrial machines, primarily for auto manufacturers.
He was a quiet mentor who enjoyed sharing his knowledge of design, engineering, and life skills, his son Jerry said.
Mr. Staczek took an interest in college students, advising for the Northwest Ohio Robotics competition sponsored by Bowling Green State University or Owens Community College, where he served on the manufacturing and technology advisory board.
“He was involved in a lot of small projects like that, but he would never tell us about them,” son Jerry said. “He enjoyed going out and helping kids understand the principles of things.”
Mr. Staczek worked for Autolite Spark Plug Co. in Fostoria and as a bottle designer for Owens-Illinois Inc. before joining J.N. Fauver Co., where he was vice president for the hydraulic-products distributor.
He left Fauver in 1982 to become vice president-marketing for Hunger Hydraulics, a German hydraulics firm with a plant in Rossford.
When he lost his job with Hunger in 1983, he and his wife, Helen, formed Industrial Design & Supply Inc., distributing hydraulic and pneumatic components and designing industrial products.
Training at customers’ plants was a growing part of the business, according to a 1996 profile in The Blade.
He devised a hydraulic platform for the General Motors plant in Defiance. Workers would raise or lower it to reach the assembly line comfortably, reducing back strain and injuries, son Michael said.
His patented the device, Ergolift, and entered it an international competition, where it won a silver medal. He wound down Industrial Design business and founded Applied Ergonomics LLC to promote his invention.
He continued working at Applied Ergonomics until his death, son Michael said.
Both sons worked for their father in various capacities.
“He was a great mentor,” Michael Staczek said. “It’s a rare thing to get to work with a parent and to get to know him as a parent and as a person.”
The brothers said they were taught that they had to hold their own under their father.
“He had no favorites. You had to work harder than the other employees, and you had to earn your way,” son Jerry said.
Jerry said his father made him get a Blade paper route in the fifth grade and keep it through high school to earn money.
Mr. Staczek was an avid boater and kept a boat in the Rossford marina.
His parents bought him an accordion from a door-to-door salesman. He played in a polka band with his brother, Don, and continued to play late in life.
“He was extremely talented with the accordion. When we would go to bed at night, he’d get out his accordion and play downstairs,” son Jerry said.
Mr. Staczek was born on Feb. 7, 1937, in Rossford to John and Phyllis Staczek. He graduated from Rossford High School and earned a two-year degree at the University of Toledo. He served stateside in the Navy Reserves.
Surviving are Helen (Crossen) Staczek, his wife of 53 years; sons Jerry and Michael; daughter Patricia Kaczmarek; brother Donald, and sister Carol Jean Faykosh.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Sujkowski Funeral Home, 830 Lime City Rd., Rossford. Visitation will continue at 9 a.m. Thursday at All Saints Catholic Church, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10. Memorials are suggested to All Saints Catholic Church.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.
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