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Published: Tuesday, 4/10/2007

Son revived firm founded by father

FREMONT Donald L. Jenkins, 71, who revived the Jenkins Manufacturing Co. steel fabrication business that his father founded, died Thursday in Southwest General Health Center, Cleveland.

The cause of death was a heart attack, Kathie Jenkins, his sister, said.

Mr. Jenkins reopened the company in 1981, about 12 years after the business was sold and renamed after the death of his father, Ronald A. Jenkins, Sr. His father established the business in 1947 as Jenkins Erectors on Stahl Road in Fremont.

Donald Jenkins began working as a welder and later a salesman while his father owned the business.

He was a jack-of-all-trades, his sister said. He could do just about anything.

Yet after the business changed hands, Mr. Jenkins went to work as cross-country truck driver. He got back into the steel business in the late 1970s, working as a foreman at Tri-Plex International, in Clyde, Ohio.

He began aspiring to someday reopen Jenkins Manufacturing and soon realized his dream, restarting the business out of a small garage in Bellevue, Ohio.

He picked up right where Dad left off, Ms. Jenkins said.

Initially, it was just him doing welding and other fabrication work for small area businesses. But business picked up, and Mr. Jenkins moved the operation to a manufacturing plant on Ewing Street in Fremont, Ms. Jenkins said.

By the mid-1980s, Mr. Jenkins had seven employees and was living his dream.

He worked too many hours and he had too much stress, but he loved it, his sister said.

Mr. Jenkins suffered a stroke in 1988, lost the use of his right arm, and could no longer continue in the business, which he closed.

To stay active, Mr. Jenkins made volunteer deliveries for the bread distribution program at his church, the Family Worship Center, Fremont.

He also enjoyed camping and was an avid NASCAR fan.

Mr. Jenkins was born in Cleveland, and moved with his family to Fremont while a boy. He attended Fremont Ross High School through the 10th grade, when he began working full time as a welder for his father.

Surviving are his son, Ronald A. Jenkins; sisters, Kathie Jenkins and Karen Workman; brother, Roger Jenkins; two grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today in the Wonderly-Horvath Funeral Home, Fremont. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Family Worship Center, Fremont, with visitation an hour before the service.

The family suggests tributes to the food pantry at the Family Worship Center.



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