By Michelle Graff
Erlanger, Ky.--Robert E. Wesdorp, who joined his father on the bench in 1949 and took over Jewel-Craft a year later, died Feb. 27 in The Villages, Florida. He was 90.

20180312 Bob WesdorpRobert Wesdorp and his wife of 71 years, Dorothy. Longtime employee Mike Martin said the hard work and dedication of Bob and Dot, as they were known, are the reasons Jewel-Craft was a success.
Born July 12, 1927, in Ludlow, Kentucky, Wesdorp, who was known as Bob, served in the U.S. Navy during both World War II and the Korean conflict.

In 1949, he joined his father, Earl, on the bench. He knew very little about the jewelry business at that time but started working at Macy’s Jewelers, an independent in Covington, Kentucky, to learn more.

The following year, Earl died in a motorcycle accident, and Wesdorp and his wife, Dorothy (Dot), took over Jewel-Craft Inc.

The couple ran the business out of the basement of their Newport, Kentucky, home until 1957, when they moved both their home and Jewel-Craft to Fort Wright.

By 1977 they had 11 employees and had moved the business again, to its own facility in Crescent Springs, Kentucky. It was from this location that the Wesdorps grew Jewel-Craft into a nationally known company, with Bob always quick to credit Dot for the success of the family business.

They turned over management of the company to the next generation in 1985.

Today, Jewel-Craft operates out of Erlanger, Kentucky and is run by Gary Wesdorp, president and CFO, and his brother Benet, president and COO. Three of Gary’s children, all three of Benet’s sons and Gary’s son-in-law also work at Jewel-Craft.

“We are really proud of our history as a family-owned business,” Gary said. “Our parents worked extremely long, hard hours to build the foundation for the success and expansion of our company. We will do our best to carry on the legacy and tradition that he built here.”

Benet said losing his father has brought on emotions he was “unprepared to handle.”

“He taught and prepared me for everything life has thrown my way … The impact he had on our family and the jewelry industry cannot be described in a single quote,” he said.

Robert Wesdorp is survived by his wife, Dorothy, of The Villages, Florida; daughter Karen (John) Kuzman of The Villages; sons Gary (Karen) Wesdorp of Villa Hills, Kentucky and Benet (Becky) Wesdorp of Burlington, Kentucky; 10 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by grandson Matthew Kuzman.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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