Barbara Gorrell, ever willing to take on challenges in career, community, and avocations, died Monday in ProMedica Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. She was 86.
She had pneumonia, son Doug said.
Mrs. Gorrell most recently held the title of secretary-treasurer for Stoll Rug & Furniture Cleaners. Her husband, Donald Gorrell, the president and chief executive, in 1979 formed a corporation to buy Stoll, which traced its heritage to the 19th century. Their sons Mike and Doug are vice presidents and run the business.
She refrained from a day-to-day role, but when Stoll moved to a new facility the Gorrells built in 2001, Mrs. Gorrell helped plan the layout. She also offered perspective when her sons discussed business concerns. She’d often begin her remarks, “Well, you know I’m going to be the devil’s advocate,’ and come from a side we’d never thought about,” son Doug recalled.
She worked for more than 25 years at the Toledo Public Schools administration building on Manhattan Boulevard and Elm Street. She was at the forefront as the school system used data processing and computers to manage such functions as payroll.
“That’s what drove her, as a challenge, to go to the University of Toledo and get her degree — the challenge and always trying to learn something new,” son Doug said. She’d already been through Davis College and, according to a UT database, received an associate degree of data processing technology in 1979. Her quest took eight years and, in 1984, she received a bachelor of science degree in business services.
“We were there at the ceremony, and Dad was so proud of her, to be persistent enough to do that,” son Doug said.
As her children were growing up, Mrs. Gorrell was active in the Washington Local district. She helped organize the library as Hiawatha School opened, and she was treasurer of the Whitmer High School band parents group.
She took part in synchronized swimming at the YMCA on Tremainsville Road and received certification in life saving. Scuba caught her interest and, after taking a course with son Dave, she made a quarry dive and became certified.
Already accomplished in the kitchen, she took on cake decorating. Birthday cakes were a mainstay, but she made a few weddings cakes. Her sons, opening the refrigerator after school, often came upon red frosting roses on wax paper. She later taught them how to make those roses.
She had no plans to hang out a shingle or take orders.
“She used that as a hobby, as a challenge,” son Doug said. Her rural upbringing contributed to her resourcefulness, he said.
“She had the internal drive,” he added.
She was born July 29, 1932, in Elkhart, Ind., the daughter of Mary and Wayne Showers. Her father was killed in a car crash three months before she was born. Her mother moved to Williams County, Ohio, where she met and married a widower with six children, Henry Kunkle. She and her brother, Ralph, were accepted by their new family, her son said. She was a 1950 graduate of Kunkle High School.
Surviving are her husband, Donald Gorrell, whom she married Feb. 16, 1952; sons Michael, Douglas, and David Gorrell; three granddaughters; a step-grandson, and two step-great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Friday at Ansberg-West Funeral Home, where funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor’s choice.
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