PORT CLINTON - Sam W. Milnark, president, publisher, and co-owner of a firm that publishes trade magazines for the metal construction industry, died of cancer Wednesday in the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Hospital. He was 68.
Mr. Milnark of Ottawa County's Catawba Island Township was co-founder and co-owner with John Lawrence of Modern Trade Communications, Inc. The firm launched the magazines Metal Construction News in 1980; Metal Architecture in 1985, and Metal Home Digest in 1993, said Shawn Zuver, editor-in-chief of Metal Construction News and Metal Home Digest.
Editorial offices have always been in Ohio - in Woodville since 1995 and, before that, in Fostoria. Business offices are in Skokie, Ill. The magazines are known for bright colorful photographs and straightforward articles in support of the industry.
“He was an extremely loyal guy and a real champion of the industry,” Mr. Zuver said. “He was always promoting the products and focusing on the positive side of things.”
Many attributed the growth of the metal construction industry - metal buildings, metal wall panels, metal framing, metal roofing, even for homes - to Mr. Milnark's efforts, Mr. Zuver said.
“He would be the first to add that he wasn't the only one responsible, but he certainly played a part in it,” he said.
Mr. Milnark grew up in Cleveland and left home at 14. He became a welder and pipefitter. He was in his 30s when his union required that he receive a high school equivalency diploma.
“He took a liking to the English class and studied some writing,” his wife, Veronica, said.
He took a part-time job at the Painesville, Ohio, Telegraph, covering local news and taking photographs. It turned into a full-time position. His boss recommended he take a position at Penton Publishing, which puts out trade magazines. Mr. Milnark became a junior editor of Heating and Air Conditioning News. He was editor 10 years later when he and Mr. Lawrence - a sales representative for the same magazine - formed the predecessor to Modern Trade Communications.
“He was the epitome of the American Dream,” his wife said. “He was a self-taught man. His famous saying was `Dreams are a dime a dozen, but execution is what counts.'”
Surviving are his wife, Veronica, whom he married May 13, 1989; sons, Mathew and Michael; daughters, Vicki Milnark and Valree Taylor; a brother; three sisters; seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
There will be no services. The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow in Gerner-Wolf-Brossia-Marsh Mortuary, Port Clinton.
The family requests tributes to the Catawba Island Township Volunteer Fire Department.