Howard C. Mercer, a civil engineer and collector of classic cars who at one point kept 50 such vehicles on his property in Monclova Township, died at home on Saturday from Alzheimer’s disease, his family said.
Mr. Mercer, 84, was born in Toledo on Nov. 2, 1929, to Howard D. and Mildred Mercer.
He graduated from DeVilbiss High School and attended the University of Toledo, where he received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
He entered the Army in 1953, serving stateside as an engineer, including a stint in Alaska surveying the newly discovered oil fields, said his son Walter Boyle.
After his discharge in 1957, he returned to Toledo and worked for Surface Combustion and later Owens Corning, from where he retired in the mid-1980s after 16 years with the firm.
He continued as a contractor for smaller engineering firms after retiring.
“He wanted to stay active,” Mr. Boyle said. “He enjoyed working on that last project down along the river, getting that [Acme plant] ready to be demolished.”
Classic cars were a major part of his life. His favorite was Ford Thunderbird convertibles, and his collection included nine models from 1960 to 1969. Several more were kept for parts
He also had Plymouth Superbird Road Runners and Chrysler Imperials, Kaisers, “and just whatever got dad’s fancy,” his son said.
The better cars were kept inside a large garage while the remainder, many of which were not restored, were stored outside.
His road to classic car collecting began in the early 1970s when he helped get a 1962 Plymouth Valiant back on the road, “and it just took off from there.”
“Dad would come across these deals and pick them up, bring them home, and put them in the garage,” Mr. Boyle said.
He also rescued dogs, probably hundreds over 25 years, his wife, Charman, said.
“Anything I dreamed up, he pretty much went along with, like the dog situation,” she said.
The couple rescued dogs for Planned Pethood, she said. At one point, the Mercers owned 26 dogs.
She was a widow when the couple married in 1964.
Her first husband, Walter Boyle, was a Toledo police officer who was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 8, 1961, while chasing an ex-convict to serve a warrant.
Charman was three months pregnant at the time of his death. She later met Mr. Mercer, a bachelor, at a downtown night club, where he asked her to dance.
“It just took off from there,” she said. “He was a good dancer. All the ladies liked to dance with him."
Mr. Mercer was a Boy Scout leader for 10 years when his sons were in Scouts.
Mr. Boyle called him “one heck of a motivator,” noting that his father wouldn’t allow him to get his driver’s license until he reached the rank of Eagle Scout.
“I sure got that taken care of,” he said.
Surviving are his wife, Charman; sons Timothy Mercer and Walter Boyle, and one granddaughter.
Visitation is 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Newcomer Funeral Home, 4150 W. Laskey Rd., where services are at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Tributes are suggested to ProMedica Hospice, Alzheimer’s Association, or Planned Pethood.
Contact: Jim Sielicki at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.