COPLEY TWP.: Stepping inside Gamauf Hardware is almost like stepping back in time.
“A hangout for some of the guys” a place where they can talk, eat doughnuts “and lie about everything,” said Bob Wilson, one of those guys, who also likes to help out at the store from time to time.
Longtime store owner Adam “Addie” Gamauf was “one of the guys,” too.
“He was just a real nice, gentle man,” Wilson said, an observation family and friends have been sharing over the past week.
“He was what you would call a common man,” son Tom Gamauf said, standing at the cash register. “He wasn’t glitzy at all.”
Mr. Gamauf died March 28 — “my birthday” Tom, 63, said of his father, who was 99. “He didn’t quite make it to 100. He wanted to, but he didn’t make it.”
Tom Gamauf runs the inside of the store, and his brother, John, “everything that goes on outside.” Another brother, Tim, is an American Eagle Airlines pilot.
Tom Gamauf said he doesn’t know where his dad got the nickname Addie.
“I was a little kid,” he said.
John, 65, described his father as a man who not only loved people, but one “happy-go-lucky guy his whole life.”
Wilson added to that image of Mr. Gamauf, recalling that he often heard him whistling happily.
Kathi Corathers, a member of the Copley Historical Society, had similar memories of the hardware store’s former owner. She said she and her husband first met Mr. Gamauf more than 30 years ago when they moved into Copley.
“He was a very dear man, and he will be sorely missed in Copley,” Corathers said.
Township Trustee Helen Humphrys, also a historical society member, agreed.
“He was a sweet man,” she said.
When the township hall was recently refurbished, trustees invited Mr. Gamauf to dedicate the bell for the building’s tower. Humphrys recalled that he also was the township’s second fire chief.
Mr. Gamauf’s 13 years as a township volunteer firefighter triggered happy memories from his sons of him dashing out of the house when the fire alarm rang.
“He was on the fire department from the time it was a bucket brigade,” Tom said. When the alarm rang, “everybody would run like crazy.”
Copley looked very different back then — nearly all farms.
Mr. Gamauf started in the hardware business at Minor Hardware in 1932, and in 1948 opened Gamauf Hardware immediately north of Copley Circle on Cleveland-Massillon Road.
Before the tractor business moved mainly into big-box stores, the Gamauf store sold International Harvester hardware and equipment. The brothers said the store stopped selling farm equipment in the 1960s.
There was a time, they said, when the store had a number of different departments and as many as 16 employees.
In a 2006 newspaper article that included his picture, Mr. Gamauf acknowledged that those days were long gone, with the hardware business drained off by big retailers, but that he would hang on — a feeling his sons share.
“We’re going to hang on as long as we can,” John Gamauf said.
If their father has a legacy it is “probably the Golden Rule,” Tom said. “He lived it.”
His brother agreed, saying of their father that he said to “treat people the way you want to be treated and you will receive tenfold.”
A memorial service for Mr. Gamauf will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Billow Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road, Fairlawn. His body has been cremated.