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F W Toenges & Sons, Inc, Shoes - Retail, Fort Wayne, IN



In 1878 Frederick William Toenges immigrated from Germany where he had worked as a shoe cobbler. He settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana and continued working as a cobbler. Frederick soon recognized that retailing would be more rewarding and in 1891 established a shoe store at 1127 Maumee Avenue. In 1891 he married and he and his wife Elise had 10 children. Two of his sons, John and Arthur, joined their father in the business. Grandfather Frederick died in 1930 and John and Arthur carried on the business. In 1942 Arthur’s son Fred W. Toenges, began working in the store after school and on week-ends even though he was only 14 years old. In 1946, John died and Fred W. became a full time employee after graduating from High School.

Fred W. wanted to continue his education and enrolled in Indiana University’s Fort Wayne campus to study Business and Engineering, while still working 60 hours a week at the shoe store. However, in 1951 Fred was drafted and spent 1952-1953 in Korea during the war. Fred had married in 1951, and during his absence was replaced at the store by his wife, Maureen. Upon his discharge from the Army Fred decided that he wanted to be "the best shoe man" in Fort Wayne and began his quest to learn everything he could about feet and how to care for them.

Fred’s quest led him to Ball State University where a pilot course in "Pedorthics" was being offered. Pedorthics is the design, manufacture, modification and fit of foot wear, including foot orthosis to alleviate foot problems, caused by disease, overuse, congenital defect or injury. After Ball State he attended Temple University, Northwestern Medical University’s School of Orthotics and Prosthetics, New York University and twice studied at the United State’s Hospital at Carville Louisiana under the direction of Dr. Paul Brand. At the latter he learned how to care for the foot problems of diabetics. Fred also studied Bio-Mechanics, Gait Deficiency Problems, Anatomy and Body Planes as part of his education.

While continuing his studies Fred also started to expand the shoe business and opened his first branch store in 1959 on E. State St. That was followed by stores on West State Street, South Anthony Blvd, and children’s stores in Glenbrook Mall and Covington Plaza. Fred also became President of the Pedorthic Footwear Assn as well a President of the Board For Certification in Pedorthics. He was asked to serve on the National Board of the Diabetic Assn and while there Co-Authored a Physicians Manual for the care of the diabetic foot. Fred also worked at Lutheran Hospital’s Crippled Children’s Orthopedic Clinic and St. Joe Hospital’s Diabetic Clinic. He continues to work at Northeast Orthopedic’s Foot and Ankle Clinic with Dr. Karr.

Fred soon realized that he needed a large facility where he could incorporate Pedorthics, a repair shop for modifying and repairing shoes, a children’s and family shoe store and technical equipment for diagnosing foot problems. He purchased property at 2415 Hobson Road and built a 10,000 plus square foot building which now houses all that plus an Orthotic Prosthetic business. Fred has 4 Certified, Licensed Pedorthists plus 36 employees to care for any and all feet and foot problems. Fred has introduced Teck Scan into the business. An innovative computer system for Floor Reaction testing that is generally found only in large clinics such as Mayo Clinic and gait analysis laboratories. Fred closed the other 5 stores and now has only the Hobson Rd. store and another smaller facility in Muncie Indiana where there is a full time Pedorthist on staff.

Fred considers the "High-Light of My Career" as being chosen by the Olympic Committee as one of 11 Certified Pedorthists (out of 1,800) to serve athletes from all nations at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. While there, he cared for the foot problems of athletes from 15 different countries as well as coaches and other volunteers.

During all of the above, Fred and Maureen managed to raise 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys. The youngest son, Ross, who is a Certified Prosthetist is now assuming the responsibilities of continuing the business into the future. Hopefully, to continue the family tradition for another 121 years.