Saturday, November 23, 2002

Obituary: Louis J. Gerwe

Retailer ran Bromwell's

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mr. Gerwe

MARIEMONT - Louis Joseph Gerwe, former owner of Bromwell's - one of downtown Cincinnati's oldest companies - died Nov. 16 at his home.

Mr. Gerwe, 92, was the second generation of his family to own and operate Bromwell's, which was originally a manufacturer of wire products. The business went through several changes since it was founded in 1819 by Jacob Bromwell, a weaver of screens, sieves and other wire goods.

Mr. Gerwe was 14 when his father, Joseph B. Gerwe, acquired the company in 1923. He quit Holmes High School four years later to help run the business. The only time he ever worked away from Bromwell's was during World War II when he put in a stint at Cincinnati Milling Machine Co. helping to produce war-related goods.

Retailing was in Mr. Gerwe's blood. Born in Ludlow in 1909, he grew up working at his father's hardware store there. He didn't retire from Bromwell's until he was in his 80s and after that, he called the store regularly to check up on business and to offer his advice.

Mr. Gerwe's son Gary is the current owner of the store, which deals in fireplace accessories and gifts, and is located on West Fourth Street.

As a young boy, Mr. Gerwe walked around Covington with his grandfather in the evenings and watched the firefighters train the horses to back into their harnesses in order to pull the wagons.

During the 1930s, he played piano with the local Hauser Orchestra.

Mr. Gerwe was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Tonnies Gerwe and a son, David.

In addition to his son, Gary, survivors include two other sons, Bill and Joe; two daughters, Lyn Kraussnd Louise Bruemmer; 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services have been held.


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