Blade staff writer
John F. MacDonald, a retired Naval Reserve officer who transformed the Sylvania Township food store his in-laws founded into a retail and wholesale outlet for pet needs , died Wednesday in Ohio Living Swan Creek. He was 91 years old.
He had coronavirus but was only sick for a few days, his granddaughter Shawna Hofmann said. Formerly of Sylvania Township, Mr. MacDonald and his wife, Patricia, moved from Springfield Township to Swan Creek several years ago.
Mr. MacDonald retired in the late 1990s when he sold Oaks Feed Co. to an employee, Kevin Sieja, who still operates the business.
His in-laws, Dorothy and Norman Pieplow, started what became the grocery store more than 80 years ago by building chicken coops and raising chickens, his wife told The Blade after her death. mother in 2001. Ms. Pieplow sold the chickens and eggs – the chickens loved by Ottawa Hills customers âbecause they were so tasty,â Ms. MacDonald said in 2001.
After Mr. Pieplow quit his warehouse job, they built a store on Central Avenue and stocked straw and feed and sold chicks and ducklings from their hatchery. Mr. MacDonald joined the business in the 1950s, and he and his wife became the owners in the mid-1960s.
âEverything they did was together,â said grandson Chad Thebeau, âand he’s always been in charge.â
As the area shifted from rural to suburban, customers at the feed store had more and more pets, not livestock, to care for.
âHe introduced the pet supply,â his daughter Diana Shaw said.
Oaks offered brands of pet food that were often recommended by vets, but only available at the time in specialty stores. Mr. MacDonald also wholesaled Oaks and delivered pet food and supplies to stores in northwest Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
âPeople will do without them before they let their pets do without them, and a lot of people buy pets when things are bad for them,â Mr. MacDonald told The Blade in 1985. âC at least that’s what I’ve been told, and it seems to be true. “
The store had employees waiting for retail customers. Mr. MacDonald was responsible for sales to commercial customers. The sign above the wholesale entrance read âOaks Feed & Pet Supply Co. Inc.â He was a past president of the Pet Industry Distributors Association.
âHe was driven by success,â said his daughter Diana.
Born October 8, 1930 to Zena and Herbert MacDonald, he graduated in 1948 from the old Burnham High School in Sylvania, where he played the trumpet in the orchestra and was part of the baseball team. He obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Toledo.
He was Payroll Manager at Owens Corning Fiberglas for approximately five years.
He started in the Naval Reserve after high school and trained for active duty. He was appointed ensign in 1952 for two years of active service and retired from the reserve in 1983 as a captain. He remained active in the 1990s with the Reserve Officers’ Association, of which he was a former officer.
He was a former commander of the American Legion Toledo Post 335. He was also an active member of the Toledo Colony of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, as Stephen and Giles Hopkins.
He was inducted in 2014 into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame of the Sylvania Academic Excellence Foundation.
He had a young mind and loved family activities, said his granddaughter Shawna. He took his grandchildren to go rafting. He coached American Legion baseball until he was 80. He and his wife have traveled the world – Europe, Israel, New Zealand, Australia.
He could be stubborn.
âI think it was the military in him, and being a business owner he used to be listened to,â she said.
Grandson Chad said: “He was generally silent, until he decided something needed to be said, and when he said it, you listened to him.”
His survivors are his wife, former Patricia Ann Pieplow, whom he married on November 1, 1952; daughters, Pamela Forbush, Jacquelynn Pastorek and Diana Shaw; eight grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Visitations will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, where funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The family suggest tributes to Westgate Chapel, of which he was a member for over 25 years.
Posted by The Blade on November 6, 2021.