By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
McCOMB — Marguerite Harshberger loved her work, whatever it happened to be, and her resume read like a mini-history of northwestern Ohio.
“She was very dedicated to her job, and it was as if every place she worked, it was her business,” said her daughter, Pat Sudlow of McComb.
Marguerite, who was 94 when she died Dec. 8, worked at the Boss Glove Factory in Findlay during World War II, Consolidated Biscuit Co. in McComb, and at A&P, Kroger and Great Scot in Findlay.
She and her husband, Harold L. Harshberger, were also well known in McComb’s business community, having operated Hash’s Food Center for nearly 20 years, then Roll-A-Way Lanes.
“She took ownership of her positions,” said her daughter, Rose Morrison.
And throughout her working career, she never took a sick day.
“If any of us were sick, she’d say, ‘You’re going to be fired. You can’t take off work.’ So, she took that seriously,” Sudlow said.
“She grew up during the Depression and I think it affected her in a lot of ways that made her into who she ultimately was,” Morrison said.
It took a broken leg and problems walking to force her into retirement at the age of 78.
“Her work ethic was just above measure and she had very high expectations for her kids,” Sudlow said.
She was born Oct. 30, 1919, in McComb, the third of six children of Harold “Bud” and Ethel (Thompson) Rader. She graduated from McComb High School in 1937 and, two years later, met her future husband when she went on a double-date with her older sister, Betty Edie.
“They dated until December of 1940 and one day dad said, ‘You know, I don’t have anything better to do. I think we ought to get married.’ And the romance just blossomed,” Sudlow said with laughter.
The couple were married on Christmas Eve, 1940.
Harold enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II and trained as a paratrooper. While he was away, Marguerite worked at the Boss Glove Factory.
“Their salary was based on piece work,” Morrison said. “So, one day, mom’s supervisor comes to her work station with a lot of people and mom thought she was in trouble. And here she had the biggest check ever given at that time for piece work, and it was $20.”
Harold returned home in 1945 and became a manager at the Findlay Kroger store. The couple started their family the following year when Sudlow was born. Morrison followed four years later.
They moved to McComb in 1947 and opened Hash’s Market, which was located in the building that would later house the main office of Bennett’s furniture store.
“Dad went by ‘Hash’ because their last name was Harshberger,” Morrison explained. “And mom was ‘Hank,’ and it came from when she was a teenager.
“She ran errands for an old man here in McComb whose name was Hank, so the kids all started calling her Hank’s girl. And it shortened to Hank and almost everyone called her Hank.”
She later would become Grandma Hankie to her seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
“In fact, on their headstone, it has Harold and Marguerite, but under it we have ‘Hashie’ and ‘Hankie’ because that’s just what they called them,” Sudlow said.
Hash’s Market moved across from McComb High School in 1954. Harold ran the business end of the store while Marguerite worked as a cashier.
“She always said, ‘Your dad never thought I was smart enough to do any of the books. All I was good enough to do was the grunt work,'” Morrison recalled.
“And dad would never let them talk at the register,” Sudlow added. “And there was never any gossiping going on. There was never any gossiping with the customers. It was just business.”
They later leased the business to the Hub Market and built the Roll-A-Way Lanes in McComb, which they ran until 1967. It is now the site of the McComb American Legion.
When Consolidated Biscuit Co. opened in the 1960s, Marguerite was one of the first women hired to work on the line.
She later worked as a checker at Findlay’s A&P and then a meat wrapper at Kroger in Fostoria and Findlay. She spent the last 15 years of her career at Great Scot, where she wrapped meat and worked in the deli.
Her daughters said their mother had an accident while working at Great Scot.
“She was going in the door as they were coming out of the door and got run over by a produce cart and hurt her knee which evolved into getting a knee replacement,” Sudlow said.
“But we always said she was going to get buried in a banana box because she just kept working. She just loved it.”
Harold died in 1996 at 78. Sudlow still remembers that day starting with a phone call from her mother about 5 a.m.
“She said, ‘Pat, I think your dad’s dead.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I started to go to work and he’s on the couch,'” Sudlow said.
“He’d gotten up and laid on the couch. She was going to go to work and came back in to tell him something and discovered him. But that kind of epitomizes how she did everything. She never was an emotional person.”
Marguerite had knee surgery the following year and was just getting ready to return to work when she fell and broke her femur.
“We called the rescue squad and she said, ‘Now look, I have on new shoes, don’t mess them up. And I just got a perm. Don’t mess my hair up,'” Sudlow recalled.
“Off they went with her just yipping at them about her hair and her shoes.”
Marguerite later broke her hip and, two years ago, fell and broke several ribs.
“She was sent to The Heritage then, but she had to make sure she was in the ‘right section’ because there were old people,” Sudlow said.
“She hated for anyone to ever say she was old,” Morrison said. “She’d say, ‘Does this make me look old? I don’t want to do that. That makes me look old.’ And I’d say, ‘Mom, you’re 94. You’re old.'”
Sudlow said, “You would never look at my mother and say, ‘Isn’t she just the sweetest little old lady you ever saw?’ No, that’s wasn’t her. She’d just tell it like it was. She was a corker.”
Marguerite attended McComb Church of Christ but wasn’t a “joiner” of clubs, her daughters said.
“She’d always say, ‘I’m not going back to church again, I’m too old.’ Then something would be going on and she’d say, ‘Well, if I don’t go, there might not be very many people there.’ So then off she’d trot again.”
But Marguerite loved her family. She saved every picture her grandchildren and great-grandchildren made for her, and every card they sent.
“She was very kind to the kids and baked cookies for people,” Sudlow said.
She was known for her orange cookies and rhubarb pie, they noted, but some other recipes didn’t turn out quite so well.
“My one nephew called it rock cake,” laughed Sudlow. “‘Has Aunt Hankie brought out any rock cake?’ Sometimes you needed lots of milk to wash it down.”
Marguerite doted on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved going to their sporting events. She attended one of their basketball games the day before she died, Morrison said.
She also had plans for the future, Sudlow said.
“Her goal was to live to be 100 and go to Kentucky this summer for her great-grandson’s wedding,” she said.
Wolf: 419-427-8419 Send an E-mail to Jeannie Wolf
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