By Lenore Fedow
Dorothy Wesdorp, co-founder of Jewel-Craft Inc., was in charge of polishing and inspecting jewelry while her husband, Robert, did the benchwork. Dorothy died July 15 at the age of 91.
The Villages, Florida—Dorothy (Dot) Wesdorp, co-founder of Jewel-Craft Inc., died July 15 in The Villages, Florida.

She was 91.

“Our family lost one of the sweetest women you could have met,” the Wesdorp family wrote in an online obituary.

Born Aug. 26, 1927, Wesdorp met her late husband, Robert, in kindergarten in their hometown of Ludlow, Kentucky.

The couple took over Jewel-Craft, a jewelry design, manufacturing and repair company, in 1950, running it out of the basement of their Newport, Kentucky home before moving both their business and their home to Fort Wright in 1957.

By 1977, the business and its 11 employees had relocated to its own facility in Crescent Springs, Kentucky, where Jewel-Craft rose to prominence in the jewelry industry.

The business was passed down to sons Gary and Benet Wesdorp in 1985. Both co-presidents, Gary serves as chief financial officer while Benet is chief operating officer.

Ready for another expansion, the company moved to its current location in Erlanger, Kentucky in 1990.

The Jewel-Craft teams credits Dorothy Wesdorp for the success of the family business, in particular her drive and commitment to quality.

“Mom taught us the importance of family and, as we continue to grow, I strive to make each employee feel like they are a part of our family,” Benet said.

Reflecting on the company’s early days, employee Mike Martin, who joined the company in 1972, recalled the couple being the first into the office each day and the last out.

“This company was grown not by luck or by someone being in the right place at the right time, but because of the hard work and dedication of Bob and Dot,” Martin said.

Gary recounted watching his parents tend to the store, his father in charge of benchwork while his mother polished and inspected the pieces.

“It was my mom’s job to tell my dad what he was doing wrong … and they were married for 70 years,” he said.

Jewel-Craft is still a family affair, with three of Gary’s children, his son-in-law, and all three of Benet’s sons employed at the company.

“Something my grandma always said that stuck with us is, never forget the people who got us where we are today,” said grandson Ross Wesdorp.

Wesdorp is survived by her children Karen, Gary and Benet; 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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