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Published: Monday, 10/17/2005

Business owner created boat firm with husband

PORT CLINTON - Ruth Conte, businessman, bookkeeper, and boatbuilder, died of a heart attack Saturday at the Edgewood Manor Nursing Center. She was 92.

Together with her husband, Sam, Mrs. Conte started Lakecraft Welding in 1941 by building and selling a few metal boats yearly to area fishermen.

The actual manufacturing wasn't for her - but she had the business sense and bookkeeping skills that kept the family company in good health.

"Mom would put the [business] package together, put the trimmings on it. For a long time, we didn't have an accountant," her son Donald said.

The company, later renamed Lakecraft Welding Corp., started with 40-foot workboats used for trap-net fishing. Ms. Conte and her husband then moved on to a brisk business selling 14-foot rowboats to bait shops to be used as rentals.

Born in New Marshfield, Ohio, Mrs. Conte's parents moved to Port Clinton when she was in her teens. She left high school early to work in the kitchen of a local hunting club for several years before going on to work at Standard Products as a production worker. She met her husband there, and the two worked on the Standard Products line until they started their own business. They retired in the mid 1980s, handing the business over to their sons.

Surviving are her sons, Donald and Samuel, and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today at the Gerner-Wolf-Walker Funeral Home, where services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The family suggests tributes to St. John Lutheran Church, of which she was a member, or the Port Clinton Fireman's Association.

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