Don Luzio, even at 83, was still greeting customers each day at his shop until last month.

NORTH CANTON  Don Luzio did little to advertise his lawn mower repair business.

There was a small sign outside his nondescript shop off Pittsburg Avenue NW and a number listed in the phone book. It was old-school, just like the hand-stamped claim ticket Luzio would dole out to those dropping off their broken machines.

"It was really word-of-mouth and reputation ... if you want it done right," said Luzio's son, Dale.

The space inside the shop's locked fence would bulge each spring with dozens of tuneup and repair jobs, a sure sign mowing season had arrived and homeowners were bracing for their annual war on grass. 

Luzio, even at 83, still was greeting customers each morning until last month, when he fell at home. He later became ill and died Tuesday. A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Sunset Hills Burial Park.

Luzio spent decades repairing lawn mowers, tractors, weed trimmers, snowblowers and other equipment, earning a reputation of offering quality work at a reasonable price.

If your mower couldn't be fixed or had reached the stage where it wasn't worth investing any more money or time, Luzio would let you know it was time to let it go.

How many repair jobs over the years?

"That's a (good) question," his son said. Stumped, he eventually settled on tens of thousands.

A Marine who served in Korea, Don Luzio opened a Sohio service station after coming back to the U.S. He later sold the station, moved to North Canton and began working as a mechanic for Willis Motors. The work was steady but not quite enough to support his family.

So Luzio used his mechanical skills to work on lawn mowers at his home in the evening and on weekends through the 1960s, '70s and '80s. His expertise, first honed sharpening old-fashioned reel mowers, continued as the industry transitioned to gas-powered engines.

By late 1999, he opened Don's Mower Repair with oldest son Gene, who died in 2008, and the younger one, Dale. Don's wife, Etha, did the bookkeeping.

"Every day, he was happy to come into work, and that's what he focused on," Dale Luzio said. "That training to be a Marine, he stuck with that all his life .... You don't complain, you don't brag. You do what you're told. Do your job."

Dale Luzio said his skills alone aren't enough to keep the shop open. He stopped taking in repair work last month and will close at the end of July. He's thankful for the community support the business has received over the years, but ready to move on.

As a tribute to his father, Dale posted a good-humored note on the door, an ode to Elvis, to alert customers about the closing.

"Don has left the building," it reads. "And so has Don's Mower Service."

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