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Edward Van Tobel Jr. ’35 died Dec. 29, 2009. The Las Vegas busiess pioneer was 96 years old. He is credited with helping to build the company into the world’s first indoor lumber and home improvement center in the 1950s. He had spent much of his youth working with his father, company founder Ed Von Tobel Sr., and brothers Jacob and George Von Tobel at the family lumberyard in town. After graduating from Las Vegas High School and Santa Clara University, Von Tobel Jr. rejoined Von Tobel Lumber. He handled the accounting and bookkeeping and oversaw the hardware and lumber store’s expansion into multiple locations. Ed Von Tobel Sr. came to Las Vegas in 1905 and started Von Tobel Lumber shortly after. That was decades before Nevada would legalize gambling, but Von Tobel Sr. made his own gamble, surviving many lean early years in business. The father patriarch died in 1967. His son Edward Jr. was the last surviving sibling among the father’s four children. Von Tobel Jr. left the family business for a brief time in the 1940s after being drafted into the Army. Upon his return to Las Vegas, he helped to make Von Tobel Lumber a worldwide model of lumberyards and home improvement centers. "People would come from Australia and all over the world to look at his indoor lumber yard. It was cool as a kid because they would bring gifts," recalled niece Julie Roach, who is the daughter of George Von Tobel. "Before there was a Home Depot or a Lowe’s, there was a Von Tobel Lumber," she said. The largest Von Tobel Lumber was at Maryland Parkway and Karen Avenue. In the 1980s, the family sold the lumber business to a national chain, which later went out of business. But Ed Von Tobel Jr. stayed active for the rest of his life by helping in the bookkeeping on his family’s real estate holdings, Roach said. "He worked right up until about a month before he passed away. He always was a hard worker and stayed late," she added. Von Tobel Jr. also kept busy helping out reporters and historians with his knowledge of the state and Las Vegas. "There wasn’t a person, writer, or filmmaker doing something on Nevada who didn’t come to Uncle Ed to interview him," Roach said. In one local history book, The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas, Von Tobel Jr. discussed his pioneering father and his childhood growing up in Las Vegas with co-author A.D. Hopkins. "Every Sunday afternoon, his brother Jake would go down to the red light district on Block 16 to buy a bucket of beer to bring back for the family," said Hopkins. "He said you had to buy it at a brothel because it was the closest place, and they’d sell you a bucket of beer even if you were 12." Hopkins said Von Tobel Jr. was "invaluable to historians." Ed Von Tobel Jr. is survived by his wife of 70 years, Evelyne; daughters Sharon Schmitt, Katherine Acord, Susan Von Tobel and Gretchen McQuade; eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.