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Published: Sunday, 4/13/2014

Alphonsus L. 'Red' Barron; 1920-2014: WWII vet became a mortgage lender

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Alphonsus L. “Red” Barron, a leader in mortgage lending and real estate matters, died Thursday in Otterbein Portage Valley near Pemberville. He was 93.

He’d been in declining health since last summer, his daughter Cheryl said. He and his wife, Gerri, longtime Millbury residents, moved to the retirement community about four years ago.

Mr. Barron was in his mid-80s when he retired, his last professional years spent in consulting, conducting appraisals, and teaching adult education courses, often for workers laid off from factory jobs.

He was a founder and the first president in 1988 of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Northwest Ohio. Its annual golf outing is named in his honor.

“He was easy to get along with, and he always had a joke to crack,” said Jack Howard, association administrator. “He was highly regarded.”

From 1981-88, he operated the Red Barron Agency in downtown Toledo. His daughter Kimberly, who had taken his classes at Bowling Green State University, worked with him.

Earlier, Mr. Barron was a vice president in charge of FHA and VA mortgages at Toledo Home Federal Savings and Loan. He’d been an assistant vice president of the American Fletcher Mortgage Co. and was associated with Toledo Home Mortgage and Northern Ohio Investment Co.

At the real estate firm, R.G. Dunbar Inc., he administered property management, insurance, land development, and real estate divisions. He was manager of the downtown Toledo office of Cleveland-based Leader Mortgage Co.

For much of the 1950s, as an employee of Realtor and home builder Clifford Loss, Mr. Barron was a carpenter, salesman, and sales manager and oversaw construction, financing, and advertising. He started his career selling life insurance.

“Even though my father technically went to school through eighth grade, he was a very smart man,” daughter Cheryl said. “He studied and learned. He loved learning and growing. He saw an open door and went through it.”

He was born May 24, 1920, in Erie, Mich., the last of Victoria and Eurick Barron’s 11 children. One of his sisters had just studied St. Alphonsus in school and suggested the name, according to family lore. He had thick wavy auburn hair and for much of his childhood was “Little Red,” while an older brother was “Big Red,” daughter Cheryl said.

He left school after his father’s death and took jobs to aid the family. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and during World War II served in the South Pacific.

He’d been an Erie firefighter and was a former president of the Ohio-Michigan Firemen’s Association. For many years, as a lay minister, he’d filled in at area Protestant churches, including St. Peter United Church of Christ in Millbury.

Surviving are his wife, Gerri, whom he married June 5, 1946; daughters Cheryl Barron, Kimberly Thornsberry, and Margene Akenberger, and four grandchildren.

Visitation is 2-8 p.m. today in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Walbridge. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in First Congregational Church on Collingwood Boulevard.

The family suggests tributes to the Wounded Warrior Project or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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



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