GRAYTOWN, Ohio — Ardith “Ardy” Gaines, who with her husband owned and operated a pair of pizza and sandwich shops in Ottawa County’s Graytown and Genoa, died Sunday at Riverview Healthcare Campus in Oak Harbor.
Mrs. Gaines, 82, never recovered from a recent fall she suffered, her daughter, Kim Dusseau, said.
Mrs. Gaines, along with her late husband, Glen, operated the Country Keg in Graytown for about 20 years. In 1977, the couple bought a small convenience store and turned it into a pizza and sandwich shop that was the focal point for the local athletic teams as well as a community gathering place.
They later opened Country Keg II in nearby Genoa, which they kept for five years. Mrs. Gaines sold the original shop to a longtime employee, Jean Tabbert, about 12 years ago, her daughter said.
“When my dad passed, my mom couldn’t handle it anymore,” Ms. Dusseau said.
Pizza and sandwiches were Country Keg’s drawing card, but Mrs. Gaines added the flavoring by playing a banjo and bantering with customers.
Ms. Dusseau said her mother never learned how to play the instrument. But she knew how to entertain.
“She’d make them laugh until they cried,” her daughter said. “She was just making noise. It was more to make people laugh.”
Mrs. Gaines had lost two front teeth from a childhood accident and wore a plate in their place. She’d remove her teeth before playing, adding to the comic effect, her daughter said.
“If she could make you laugh for a day, she had accomplished her mission,” Ms. Dusseau said.
Country Keg was the community gathering spot and a strong supporter of the high school and community sports teams.
“If you were an athlete, they [her parents] would feed you,” Ms. Dusseau said. “The kids always knew they could come out there and Glen and Ardy would treat them like their own grandkids.”
Her customer base extended to Tupperware, which she sold for 22 years.
Mrs. Gaines had no hobbies outside the business, her daughter said.
She drove a school bus for Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools for 10 years in the 1970s and ’80s, while her husband worked as the district’s bus mechanic.
She and her husband actively followed their children and grandchildren’s sporting events, seldom, if ever missing a game, home or away, her daughter said. “She took the time to go to every single game,” she said. “She was a yeller too. We’d have to tell the umpire that was just my grandmother, don’t mind her.”
Mrs. Gaines was born Dec. 29, 1931, in Genoa, to Gaylord and Freida Sheldon. Her husband, Glen G. Gaines, whom she married in 1951, died Jan. 23, 1998.
She was a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Genoa.
Mrs. Gaines is survived by her sons, Tony, Terry, and Jeff Gaines; daughter, Kim Dusseau; 14 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Robinson-Walker Funeral Home & Crematory, Genoa. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ, Genoa. Memorials are suggested to the Rocky Ridge/Graytown Baseball Association or Oak Harbor Athletic Boosters.
Contact: Jim Sielicki at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.