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Design Institute America founder Robert Winzeler Jr. dies at 80

 Image of Robert Winzeler Jr.Robert Winzeler Jr.

MONTPELIER, Ohio — Robert Cameron Winzeler Jr., chairman of Winzeler Stamping Co. and founder of furnishings and accent source Design Institute America, has died. He was 80.

After college and military service as a first lieutenant in the Air Material Command between 1955 and 1957, Winzeler returned to Montpelier and joined the family business, Winzeler Stamping, a producer of custom metal stamping components for industries including home furnishings. Winzeler was named CEO and chairman in 1970. He left the CEO position in 1997, but retained the chairman title.

An entrepreneur, he founded Winzeler Pacific, Winzeler South and Acme Metal Products, which was renamed Design Institute America in 1971. The company, which is no longer in the Winzeler family, is known for its modern and transitional furnishings and accents.

Designer Rick Lee, who won a table design contest sponsored by Design Institute America in the late 1980s, said Winzeler helped open doors for furniture designers. "Bob loved design/art. Therefore, he contributed so much to the design world by creating the iconic Design Institute America," Lee said. "He gave so many wonderful opportunities to many designers and artists."

Outside of work, Winzeler was an active alumnus of Ohio State, served on several local and state boards, and held local and state positions in the Republican Party.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, two sons, a brother and six grandchildren. His daughters, Kim Winzeler and Megan Hinchsliff, own Pauline Grace, a to-the-trade showroom in Chicago.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Montpelier Area Foundation, First Presbyterian Church and Montpelier Recreation Park.

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