Life Story: Ed Landwehr ~ 1927-2012
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Ed Landwehr grew up on a farm in Bensenville, but it wasn't farming he dreamed of pursuing. It was the hot, new field at the time: television.
After serving in the military, Landwehr got an associate degree in electronics, funded by the G.I. Bill. He found work at a television repair shop in downtown Arlington Heights, and less than 10 years later, he took over as owner.
His new Landwehr's TV store would go on to grow with the village. As Landwehr's Appliances, at its new home on Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights, it became one of the iconic businesses in the Northwest suburbs.
Landwehr passed away on July 14. He was 86.
"He worked under the theory that if the business was loyal to the community, the community would be loyal to the business," says his son, Marty Landwehr of Arlington Heights, one of five Landwehr children who worked in the store.
Right from the start, Landwehr became active in village organizations. At one time, he served on the village plan commission, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and for 35 years on the Rotary Club of Arlington Heights.
As a downtown merchant, one of his early ideas to attract area residents to shop locally, demonstrated his vision and commitment to the village.
Together with his son, Jim, and some of his employees, they set up nearly 80 speakers around the downtown shopping area, and strung nearly one mile of wiring to amplify holiday music through the streets.
"To this day, that's one of my favorite memories," says his daughter, Susan Roel of Palatine, who remembers the music played from Thanksgiving through Christmas, from 1960-1962.
As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, he also helped to develop Sidewalk Days, adding carnival rides down Dunton Street.
Family members say the company's 1969 move from its small storefront to the large building on Northwest Highway was a gamble, but it allowed them to develop a complete showroom, as well as a repair center and warehouse.
"People wanted to feel, touch and see the appliances, rather than look at them in a catalog," says his son, Jim. "We gained nearly four times as much space and that made all the difference."
Long before the entrance of big box stores, Landwehr's and Polk Brothers were the only places in the Northwest suburbs to purchase appliances.
Landwehr's homey touches also helped grow the business, the family says. When microwaves burst on the scene in the early 1970s, customers could attend free classes at the Landwehr showroom to learn about this new concept of cooking.
He always loved the Christmas holidays, selling trees on his lot during the season.
"If you bought a new appliance," his son, Marty adds, "you got a free Christmas tree."
Landwehr eventually sold the building and his business to Plass Appliance, but his son continues to operate Landwehr Service in Arlington Heights, something which his father continued to play an active role in, up until last year.
Landwehr is also survived by his wife, Beatrice, son Bob of Arlington Heights and daughter Barbara Weeks of Las Vegas, as well as eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Services have been held.