Passion and foresight were words used this week in remembrance of Bob Dupee, Wellington’s first village administrator, who passed away Sept. 25 at age 74.
Dupee filled the position for 32 years leading up to his retirement and the hiring of Steve Pyles in 2006. The creation of Wellington Community Park and the Wellington Industrial Park are largely credited to Dupee.
After Pyles chose to depart the village in 2016, a long list of applicants from all over the country vied for his job. But when Bob’s son Steve Dupee became available, mayor Hans Schneider said it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.
“When the Dupees moved to town, they moved in four houses down from me,” he said. “I’ve known Bob since I was eight or nine. I knew him as a person but really got to know him as a leader when I first got on council. He was just a tremendous visionary for our community. His foresight to look ahead put us in excellent position today. We’re taking his vision and building on it.”
“I know our village is going to be taken care of because Bob raised Steve to care about people and community,” Schneider said. “Steve is very intelligent just like his dad. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree but the apple will define itself. Steve has put on a game face for us during a difficult time. I’m sure he’s hurting inside and our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they go through this.”
The younger Dupee came to Wellington after 24 years of public work in Oberlin, including 15 as the city’s electric director.
He said observing his father’s work as a child instilled a strong sense of community service and examining every detail when completing a task.
“My dad truly enjoyed his career in Wellington,” said Steve. “He wanted to enhance the quality of life for Wellingtonians and that’s what drove him. I grew up around it and it was plain as day to see. Seeing that is what really attracted me to public service. I wanted the chance to enhance people’s quality of life just like him.”
“He was ecstatic when he found out I was going to be village manager,” he said. “He told me how proud he was and I’m certainly proud of him and his accomplishments. It’s a true honor for me to be able to continue his legacy and what he’s done for the village.”
Terry Mazzone, director of communications for the Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative, said Bob Dupee was instrumental in modernizing Wellington’s electrical infrastructure.
“Bob knew this community inside and out,” he said. “We don’t have our parks without him. We have one of the best electrical distribution systems in the state because of what Bob Dupee did. He just did a super job in the community. If you told him he couldn’t do something, he’d figure out a way to get it done. Steve shares many of the same attributes and this village got a coup when they landed him.”
Wellington planning and zoning coordinator Marla Lent recalled Dupee’s sharp memory and willingness to teach.
“My experience with Bob was one of the best in my entire working history,” she said. “He not only was a good friend but a mentor as well. He just handled himself so professionally. Whenever we were seeking grant funds, he would take me along with him to meetings. He always had all the facts and figures in his head. While everyone else was fumbling through paperwork, Bob would just rattle off the number perfectly. His mind was a steel trap.”
“I watched Bob’s kids grow up and know he had a positive influence on Steve and Shelly,” she added. “Now, it’s just kind of neat to see Steve come full circle and put the lessons learned through his dad into his own compassion toward our community.”
Steve Dupee said his family is doing as well as can be expected after such a significant loss.
“My dad lived with me for the past 10 years and it’s been a tough road,” he said. “We built a house together on Pitts Road with a suite for my parents and I expected them to be around for a long time. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly after we moved in and passed away in 2015. It’s tough and I’m going to miss my dad desperately. I know he wanted to be with my mom and the fact that he is now gives me some relief.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.