William "Pete" Loftin, who launched the Jacksonville, Fla., dealership Outboard Inc. in 1957 and operated it for 41 years, succumbed to cancer on Monday. He was 88.
Born William A. Loftin Jr. in North Carolina, he was known simply as Pete by friends and colleagues. He also worked for 13 years with the Evinrude Motors division of Outboard Marine Corp., first as an assembly line supervisor and then as the Southeast sales representative.
“I counted Pete as a dear friend and a giant in the industry,” Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, told Soundings Trade Only. “He tackled all problems and challenges with reckless abandon.”
Like Keeter, Loftin served as president of the MRAA and was a pioneer in its creation. Loftin also spearheaded the development of a marine trades group, boat show and fishing tournament in his adopted home of Jacksonville. He served on numerous industry councils.
In 1992, he was elected to the Marine Retailers Association of America Hall of Fame, and in 1997 he received its Irv Rosenthal Award for outstanding service to the boating industry.
Keeter referred to his friend as “fiercely loyal” to friends and colleagues and a dogged advocate for marine dealers.