If there is one name that stands out in the maritime history of Richmond, it’s the Lubzinski brothers.
Jack and Joseph founded the world-renowned Marine Products Company, which built high quality ship steering wheels on No. 3 Road back in 1951.
Joseph sadly passed away at a Delta hospital Nov. 2, at the age of 85. An intimate celebration of life took place Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Before his death, the brothers had poured their heart and soul into the business, running it for more than 50 years until it closed down in 2005.
Since then, they continued to contribute to the ship industry with exhibits of their machines and processes at the Maritime Festival in 2011 and 2012.
In the wake of Joseph’s death, Jack, now 90, recalled his youngest brother as a persistent person with an iron work ethic.
“He was easy to work with. For Joe, it wasn’t a case of quitting at five; he would work until nine or ten, or early in the morning. He made an effort to make things work.”
Relentless dedication is something the Lubzinski brothers had in common as they were able to turn one of Richmond’s oldest manufacturers into a thriving business.
The mahogany steering wheel they manufactured was used in more than 40 magnetic mine sweepers for the U.S. navy.
A job in the ship industry had always been on the cards for Joseph, who quit school at the age of 16 and went on to work on fishing boats at Britannia Shipyard, an area where he spent most of his life.
When Jack jumped in to produce a suitable steering wheel for his brother’s boat, their skills proved complementary.
While Jack was devoted to designing and developing innovative products, Joseph ran the shop and travelled the U.S. as a salesman.
“I spent my life going to school, and Joe spent his life working, making it possible for me to go to school,” Jack grinned.
He also recalled their special bond started at a young age. With Joseph being the youngest of five boys, Jack spent most time with him as the two of them were often home alone.
“Our other brothers got attached to other families, but Joe and I never married, so we stayed attached to each other through building things together,” he said.
While Joseph had already spent several months in hospital, his death still came unexpectedly. “He was first admitted when he had trouble breathing,” said Jack.
“After that, he had a hard time swallowing, so they put a tube in his stomach. He thought he’d heal soon, but it dragged on for months. And then his nerve condition progressed worse rather than better.”
Although Jack is a man of few words — just like his brother — Joseph’s death hits him hard.
“I wish he was able to stay with me. I cannot think of anyone else who will want to do what he did,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Lubzinski Centre for Innovation — based in Point Roberts — is determined to carry on where the brothers left off, said director Judson Meraw.
The non-profit organization wants to further develop their work in both the marine product industry and quantum physics, “with Joe’s spirit with us.”