Biography of Peter F. Whalen
Lucas County, OH Biographies

Peter Francis Whalen, who lived and labored to worthy ends, recognizing his duties and obligations to his fellowmen, as well as his opportunities for the attainment of success and the advancement of his individual fortunes, had reached the age of sixty six years when he passed away in his Toledo home, on the 16th of May, 1920. He was born in Grey county, Upper Canada, May 17, 1854, being the eldest son in a family of four children whose parents were Peter and Mary (Doran) Whalen, both of whom have passed away, the death of the father occurring when his son, Peter, was but two years of age. When he was a lad of twelve he accompanied his mother and her family to Detroit; Michigan, and there he attended the public schools for a limited period, but the straitened financial circumstances of the family made it imperative that he put aside his textbooks and seek employment that he might assist his mother in support of the household. He early took up the molder's trade, which he followed for a number of years and as opportunity offered availed himself of the chance to attend business college, recognizing how essential is educational training in connection with the attainment of business success.

When Mr. Whalen removed from Detroit to Toledo he became associated in the varnish business with his brother in law, Alfred Collins, the enterprise being established under the firm style of Collins & Whalen. Success attended their efforts from the beginning and after carrying on a profitable business until 1882 they consolidated their interests with the Buckeye Paint Company. In the fall of 1887 the new organization was incorporated under the name of the Buckeye Paint Varnish Company, of which Mr. Whalen was elected president and general manager, continuing at the head of the company to the time of his demise. His initiative, his broad vision, his sound judgment and his keen discrimination were vital forces in the attainment of success and in the course of years the business was developed into one of the largest establishments of its kind in northern Ohio, its ramifying trade connections covering a broad territory that included not only the Buckeye state but also Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, its sales amounting to several hundred thousand dollars annually. Mr. Whalen was a man of resolute purpose, who carefully thought out his plans and carried them forward to successful completion. He never allowed any obstacle or difficulty in his path utterly to discourage him, ever recognizing the fact that persistent effort, intelligently directed, could find a way at all times to achieve an honorable purpose. In the course of years he, therefore, won a measure of success, which placed him with the men of affluence in Toledo. A contemporary biographer said of him - "His success. in no way warped his kindly nature, for he ever retained his interest in the welfare of those less fortunate than he, helping by his wise counsel, and often in a more substantial way, those with whom he came into contact."

In Toledo, on the 15th of June, 1880, Mr. Whalen was married to Miss Mary F. Riely, a daughter of John and Margaret (Kerins) Riely. They became pareats of the following named: Peter F., Jr., who is the vice president of the Buckeye Paint & Varnish Company; Milton E.; John J.; Florence, who is now Mrs. Ray Owens; Helen Marie; and Mary L., Margaret and Leonard, all three of whom are deceased. Mr. Whalen found his greatest happiness in promoting the welfare and comfort of his wife and children and his best traits of character were reserved for his own fireside, although all men knew him as a faithful friend, a just and kindly employer, a loyal citizen and in every relation of life a progressive man. He supported all measures which he deemed of value to the community and gave his aid to every cause he believed would promote civic progress or uphold the legal or moral status of the community in which he lived. He always voted with the democratic party, taking an active interest in political affairs and for several terms he served as alderman from his ward, notwithstanding that it was regarded as one of the republican strongholds of the city, while he was ever an earnest advocate of democratic principles. He belonged to the Roman Catholic church, to which he contributed generously and for thirty five years was councilman of St. Patrick's church, while at the time of his demise he was a member of the Cathedral Chapel church. He belonged to the National Union, the Foresters of America, the Catholic Mutual Benevolent Association, the Catholic Knights of America, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Knights of Ohio and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He likewise had membership in the Toledo Chamber of Commerce, in the Kiwanis Club, the Builders Exchange and the Toledo Oil and Varnish Club. It was his expressed wish that he might never live to an age of helplessness and to the last he continued a most active factor in the world's work. He had attended the semi annual dinner given by his company to his employes at the Hotel Secor and had spoken at the banquet in a most happy vein, expressing the wish that he might be present at many more such affairs. But soon after his return home, he became suddenly ill, and passed away. Outside of his immediate household his death was nowhere more keenly felt than among his employes, for whom he had manifested the most kindly interest and ofttimes the warmest friendship. He was very fond of athletic sports and encouraged the formation of baseball, basketball and bowling teams among his employes and it was very gratifying to him that they took high rank in the various local leagues to which they belonged. The career of Peter Francis Whalen was one of usefulness and worth to his fellowmen, through the employment which he gave to many and through the influence which he had upon the lives of those with whom he was associated. As the architect of his own fortunes he builded wisely and well and his success was the fitting crown and reward of his labors.

Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio
BY: John M. Killits, A.M., LL.D.
S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago and Toledo

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