Robert "Bob" Paul Slaff, 89, who founded Inland Marine in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and later lived in Annapolis after his company was involved in a merger, died March 8 in Crofton, Md.
Born on May 6, 1923, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Slaff enlisted in the Navy in 1942, served in Naval Lighter Than Air operations and was commissioned as a lieutenant, junior grade. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service, according to an obituary in the (Annapolis) Capital Gazette.
The Navy introduced Slaff to boats and his professional life was about the marine world. He founded Inland Marine in 1958 and became a distributor of British Seagull engines, Avon inflatable boats and other marine equipment.
In 1982, he moved to Annapolis when his company merged with Imtra Corp. In addition to expanding the business, he became a freelance marine journalist. He wrote a boating column for The Annapolis Capital Sunday sports section for more than 10 years and a boating calendar for The Baltimore Sun. In 2007, Gov. Martin O'Malley named him the Maryland Chesapeake Bay ambassador.
Slaff was a member of the Maryland Boat Act Advisory Committee for more than 20 years, including one term as chairman; a member of the Marine Trades Association of Maryland, including two terms as president; a member of the Eastport Yacht Club for 27 years; and a member of the Maryland Watermen's Association and the Democratic Central Committee. He enjoyed boats and savored Annapolis — his license plate read "BOATBOB" — and he was the Minister of the Navy of the Maritime Republic of Eastport.
Slaff is survived by his wife of 65 years, Esther Shapiro Slaff; his son, Bruce T. Slaff and spouse Amy Rockmaker; three daughters, Susan Slaff Lefkowitz and spouse Melvin Lefkowitz, Amy Slaff Creelman and spouse William Creelman, and Sara Slaff and spouse Andrew Levine; eight grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.