GRAFTON - Arnie de la Porte, 78, of Grafton passed away unexpectedly on October 30, 2013, at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine.
Arnie was born on September 15, 1935, in the Netherlands, and dreamed of moving to the United States after he saw the waves of American airplanes liberating his country during World War II
. He graduated from the oldest nautical academy in Europe, de Kweekschool van de Zeevaart, and was an officer in the Royal Dutch Navy before he became deeply involved in international business. Arnie's motto was "trading nations seldom go to war." He began his career at the Royal Dutch Shell in Rotterdam (Den Haag), and later became the sales director for Eliot & Co., a large machine tool company in Europe, as well as the general manager of McCulloch in Belgium, and the Vice President International at the Ridge Tool Co.
After fulfilling his dream of moving to the United States in 1981, Arnie founded Hexon, an international manufacturer of loading and dock equipment, in 1989. In 1990, Her Majesty The Queen of The Netherlands appointed Arnie as Honorary Consul for the State of Ohio. Arnie is a Knight of the French Medal of Merit, and was the 2009 Heart of Ohio Council Distinguished Citizen. He was a founding member of the French American Chamber, the British American Chamber of Commerce, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, the Benelux Business Association, the German Roundtable, the State of Ohio Economic Development Council, the Business Advisory Board of the Maine Maritime Academy, the Cleveland World Trade Association Foundation, and the Northeast Ohio Trade Network. He has served as Chairman for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, the Board for the Elyria Country Club, Motch and Merriweather, as well as the Honorary Chair of the Cleveland Rotary Club
; in addition, he was the co-chairman of the Cleveland Tall Ship Festival for many years. He was nominated by the US Secretary of Commerce as a board member of the Northern Ohio District Export Council. He was the past president of the Cleveland World Trade Network, as well as a past Grand Commodore of the Ohio Commodores. Arnie has guest lectured at John Carroll University.
Arnie is survived by his wife of 54 years, Maud (nee Moet); his three sons, Herbert W. (Sheila) of Elyria, Peter C. (Gayle) of Grafton, and Robert M. (Rita) of Germany; his grandchildren, Chelsea, Eric, Alexander, and Christopher; and his sister, Isa Van der Schalk (Max) of France.
A celebration of Arnie's life will be held at 4:00 P.M. on Sunday, November 10, at the Elyria Country Club (41625 Oberlin-Elyria Rd, Elyria, OH 44035), where his family will receive friends from 2:00 P.M. until the time of services at 4:00 P.M. Rev. John Regan will preside over services. Burial will be private.
Memorial contributions in Arnie's memory can be set to the Charles A. de la Porte Student Explorer Education Fund in care of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (P.O. Box 158, Peninsula, OH 44264).
Local funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Laubenthal-Mercado Funeral Home of Elyria, (440) 322-4636.
Online condolences to the family can be expressed at www.laubenthalmercado.com.