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Man who launched Rapala business dies

DULUTH -- Ron Weber, a Duluth native who made a fortune by creating the company that imported Rapala fishing lures and Fiskars scissors from Finland, died Friday. He was 84.

“Ron has probably accomplished more in his lifetime than most people ever dream about,” said Butch Furtman, a Pelican Lake-based angler and outdoor television show host who met Weber steelhead fishing more than 50 years ago.

“He was one of the best all-around fishermen I know,” Furtman said.

Weber was also a philanthropist.

In 2000, Weber and his wife, Mary Ann Myhre Weber, donated $1 million to UMD to spur construction of the $9.2 million Weber Music Hall. They were early benefactors of what became the Great Lakes Aquarium and help fund watershed restoration efforts.

Weber graduated from University of Minnesota Duluth in 1952. In the late ’50s, he formed his own sales representative agency, the predecessor of the Normark Rapala Group. During a fishing trip to Canada he was introduced to a handmade Rapala lure, which he began importing. Weber also introduced the Rapala fillet knife and Fiskars scissors to the United States.

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