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Businessman made area a better place


August 11, 2005



Parkersburg News, Parkersburg, WV

A time of joy and celebration for the Fenton family has turned into sadness with the death Tuesday of family patriarch Frank M. Fenton.

Fenton, 89, had been in ill health recently, but his death coming as it did in the midst of Fenton Art Glass' 100th anniversary celebration, was a sad event for the family and the community. However, we hope everyone feeling the pain of Fenton's death will remember his business sense and leadership during the previous four decades that helped make this celebration possible. During the nearly 40 years he and his brother Bill headed the company, Fenton Art Glass grew from a small business to a name known worldwide for its quality and innovative products.

"He was a great leader and certainly provided a lot of support and advice," his son and current CEO and president of Fenton Art Glass George Fenton said. "He was personally very caring and in business, very wise and very astute."


Fenton, himself, liked to say about his tenure with the company, "I started at the top ... and worked down." This was undoubtedly true. He knew his business from top to bottom and was beloved by the Fenton employees. As longtime Fenton employee Harold Burdette told the newspaper, it will be hard to imagine the mood at the factory as word of Fenton's death spreads to employees. "I remember Frank from way back, probably 53 years," he said. He was a good man. "Everybody liked Frank ... . He was a kind person."

Frank Fenton-and all of the Fenton family-always shared its success with the community of Williamstown. Frank Fenton loved Williamstown. One of his final public acts was to donate five acres to the city of Williamstown that will become Fenton Park.

"He was one of the dearest people who cared about people so much and cared about the town," Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford said. "He was just a very caring person and no doubt one of the nicest gentlemen I ever met," she said.

In his later years, Frank Fenton took on the role to which because of his longevity with the company he was so well suited-that of company historian. He spoke to collector clubs and did hours and hours of research on the history of the company. It also was a role he relished. Fenton was a bridge to the company's long and rich past. His death is not only a loss to the company, but to the Mid-Ohio Valley as well. We share the Fenton family's sorrow at this time. We hope they will find strength in his long life and his accomplishments, both in business and for his community.

"That's really what he lived for," Ford said. "His family, his business and the people in the town. This was his home."

Today, that home is much saddened by his passing.


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Visitors to Fenton Art Glass will find a spacious Gift Shop and a pleasant museum. Free factory tours (M-F 8:15am to 4:00pm) take small groups of guests right out to the factory floor to see glassmaking "up close and personal." Friendly, knowledgeable tour guides explain all aspects of the operation. The Fenton tour has been ranked among the "top 10" factory tours nationwide by USA Today. In addition we have been named Rand McNally Best of the Road for 2006. For a factory tour schedule, click here. For a map, click here.


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