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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2014

John A. Toepfer [1933-2014]; Businessman spurred 4-wheel-drive demand

BLADE STAFF

John A. Toepfer, 80, retired owner of a business that catered to four-wheel-drive vehicles, died Saturday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio.

His wife, Marlene, said he died of complications from head injuries he suffered after falling Friday night in their home in Monclova Township.

Mr. and Mrs, Toepfer were equal owners of 4 Wheel Drive Diversified Inc., a business they started in 1976 to provide after-market accessories and parts for four-wheel-drive and off-road pickups and vehicles. The business began in Holland and later relocated to Illinois Avenue in Maumee.

At the time, Mrs. Toepfer said, there was little demand for such parts, but they created it by customizing a 1970’s Datsun pickup and converting it to four-wheel drive. “We created the demand and took the truck to every dealership in town,” she said.

Their son, Daniel, later joined the business, which eventually expanded services for repairs by adding floor lifts and jacks, employing as many as 10 workers.

After their son died in 2005, the Toepfers retired and sold the store and repair shop to some of their employees, who eventually moved it to Springfield Township.

Mr. Toepfer was born Aug. 15, 1933, to Arthur and Ruth Toepfer. He grew up in South Toledo and graduated in 1951 from Libbey High School. Mrs. Toepfer said he played drums in the school’s mar-ching band, performed in local bands, and taught drums at several music stores in Toledo.

He entered the Navy in 1955 and served on several ships during a 21-month hitch.

He met the former Marlene Rajner, then a student at Notre Dame Academy, in 1954 on a blind date. They were married Sept. 21, 1957.

Mr. Toepfer worked at Standard Oil of Ohio before he entered the Navy, and continued with the company after his military service ended. He also worked as a salesman for Shrader Tire & Oil Co. from 1965 to 1976.

Surviving are his wife, Marlene; daughters, Denise Toepfer and Deborah Toepfer-Simenski, and two grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Thursday in the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Fu-neral Home, Maumee. Services will begin at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Maumee.

The family suggests tributes to the church’s music ministry or God’s Store House.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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