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Published: Thursday, 5/3/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Robert C. Winzeler, Jr., 1931-2012: Montpelier company owner had been active in GOP


MONTPELIER, Ohio -- Robert C. Winzeler, Jr., a third-generation owner and chairman of a family company who was a booster of others with promise, died Sunday in Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers, Bryan. He would have been 81 on Tuesday.

He suffered a stroke in September caused by a fall, his wife, Jo, said.

He became chairman and chief executive in 1970 of Winzeler Stamping Co. He remained chairman when his son Mike became president and chief executive officer in 1997.

"He was a quiet person, but he had a really strong energy about him and a strong presence," his son said. "His enthusiasm carried and pushed us into areas maybe we didn't know we wanted to go."

The company's mainstays include couplings for garden and appliance hoses and ferrules. Mr. Winzeler founded what became Design Institute America to create furniture with a sleek, contemporary profile. The family no longer owns the business.

He continued to encourage others with potential in diverse fields. "Anybody who was passionate about something, he was a fan," his son said. "If he could help them with advice or money, he'd do that. He was a dreamer, and he had an opportunity to pursue some of his [dreams], so he wanted to give others that opportunity."

He was proud that Winzeler Stamping was a family business that employed local families, his wife said.

"[He instilled] in our children that it was important. It was part of the community. We owed it to the community to do our best to keep it functioning," his wife said.

He was deeply involved in the community, as his late father had been. He was a former member of Montpelier Village Council and the planning commission. He was a former director of the industrial development corporation and a former chairman of the park board. He served on a regional work force board and a regional rail commission.

He also was as a leader in the Republican Party at the county and state levels, as his father had been. His early support for Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential bid made an impression, and he was asked to work on Ronald Reagan's 1966 California gubernatorial campaign.

A 1949 graduate of Montpelier High School, he received a bachelor of industrial engineering degree from Ohio State University. As an Air Force first lieutenant, he was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

He was a pianist and followed jazz. He traveled the world and kept up on politics. "He was knowledgeable about many things. I kind of think he was a Renaissance man," his wife said.

Surviving are his wife, Jo Ann, whom he married June 20, 1953; daughters, Kimberle Winzeler and Megan Hinchsliff; sons, Bob III and Mike; brother, Dan Winzeler, and six grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in First Presbyterian Church, Montpelier, where visitation will be from 2-7 p.m. Sunday. Arrangements are by the Thompson Funeral Home, Montpelier.

The family suggests tributes to the Montpelier Area Foundation; First Presbyterian Church, or Montpelier Recreation Park.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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