About Richard

Tuesday evening, Feb. 25th, 2014 -   Richard will be in Green Bay at The Reader's Loft Bookstore - 2069 Central St, Ste. 44 - to meet readers and sign books.  From 6:30-8:00 p.m.


Richard Purinton was born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and has resided in Door County all of his life with the exception of four years in the U.S. Navy. He is a graduate of Sturgeon Bay High School (1965) and UW-Madison School of Journalism. A resident of Washington Island since 1974, he and his wife Mary Jo (Richter) live on Main Road. They have three children and four grandsons.

Richard has worked for Washington Island Ferry Line, Inc. for 39 years, first as deckhand, then captain, general manager and company president. In addition to writing, his interests include gardening, metal sculpture, photography, boating, motorcycling, and woodcarving.

A book entitled Words on Water – A Ferryman’s Journal was published in June 2009 by Norbert Blei’s Cross+Roads Press, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. In addition, Richard edited and published Over and Back – A History of Transportation to Washington Island (1990), and has written for several marine journals. He wrote the script, co-edited and produced two hour-long videos. These films documented the 1994 construction of the Northport Breakwall, A Calming of Death’s Door (1995) and Building a Great Lakes Passenger Ferry – A New Four-Season Ferry for Washington Island (1995), a video about the ice-breaker Arni J. Richter project in 2002/2003.







Books by Richard

About Rock Island:

For more information about Rock Island and Ferry Schedules, visit: http://www.wisferry.com/rock-island-ferry/

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   An ISLAND OBSERVER Profile - from August 1, 2013 

GENTLEMAN WITH MANY FACES, by Gil Fornaciari    (published here with permission)

Sitting on the porch watching a ferry leave the dock, I was happily anticipating my interview with Dick Purinton, a man with many faces and a true gentleman, with water as his backdrop.  From the time Dick was a small boy he had a desire to be near, on, or playing in the water.  While growing up in Sturgeon Bay, Dick's father was a naval engineer for 40 years in the shipyards. His mother originally lived on a farm in Sister Bay.

After graduating from high school in 1965, Dick ventured out to continue his education at Valparaiso University in Indiana and after two years decided he yearned, as he stated, "to be near the water, instead of freeways and cornfields, and thus transferred to The University of Wisconsin, Madison."  While working on his degree in journalism,  Dick enjoyed sailing and was on the rowing crew team for two years.

Once Dick graduated, he joined the Navy and served as a quartermaster for four years.  During this time he married Mary Jo Richter on the Island in 1972 at the home where they live today, with a reception at Karly's. When his Navy commitment was finished, Dick started working for Arni Richter at the Washington Island Ferry Line as a deckhand, and one year later he completed his license requirements to become an operator/captain.  For the next 20-plus years he worked as a captain and maintenance engineer and became president of the company, enjoying every minute "on the water."

In 1984 the Washington Island Ferry Line moved from Gills Rock to Northport, but this wasn't accomplished easily.  A break wall was built (1994), safety was a major concern with the landing and loading, and the governing county board was initially an obstacle for them.  The grant application was approved with convincing arguments and Northport became a reality.

"Because the crew lives on the Island, we can do things with an Island point of view with a safe and sensible way that will perpetuate itself well," stated Dick.  "Decisions are made for the good of the business and the good of the Island." The current dredging project is an example of this.

Currently Dick is CEO of the WI Ferry Line and believe me, retirement is not a part of his vocabulary.   He works part time driving the Cherry Train, allowing visitors the chance to view the sites and listen to the narrative Dick shares regarding life on the Island.  On the water, Dick totally enjoys being part time captain of the Karfi (purchased by the Ferry Line in 2012) to Rock Island from Jackson Harbor and back.

With a degree in journalism, it is not a surprise that one of Dick's passions is writing.  He has written and published three books and will publish another one soon, "Thordarson and Rock Island."   After writing so many business letters throughout his career he wanted to use his imagination and writing skills to start an entirely new type of writing - books.

Throughout the years Dick has also written articles for the Observer, marine magazines, and "the Foghorn."  He was also a key participant with the filming of the construction of the Arni J. Richter ferryboat in 2003 (script, storyline and editing) and "A Calming of Death's Door."  If you look at the Washington Island Ferry Line web site (wisferry.com) you will find current news by clicking on Dick's blog:  Ferry Cabin News.

Dick's website, richardpurinton.com, lists all of his published books and current news also.  They include:  "Over and Back" (1990) - voyages of the ferries;  "Words On Water" (2009) - a year-long journal relating to the Island'  "Bridges Are Still News" (2010) - memoirs of Islanders; and, to be released this summer, "Thordarson and Rock Island" - a history of development of Rock Island.  Whew, how impressive!

Dick and Mary Jo have three children and four grandsons.  Their daughter and one son live on the Island and Dick certainly enjoys life on the Island with them.  If you are a golfer, stop and visit two of their grandsons at Purinton's former home on Main Road as you are golfing and these sweet little guys will sell almost new golf balls to you at a great price, as they are perched on the fence with their cash box.  What a hoot! 

Dick enjoys woodcarving, creating metal sculptures, and motorcycling. As long as he can be near the water his creativity works overtime!  In the community Dick enjoys his active membership at the American Legion and Trinity Lutheran Church where you may find him singing in the choir.  He is also a member of the editorial board at the Observer.  

Dick and Mary Jo will enjoy a vacation to England in the near future, a vision they promised themselves during this past winter.  Slow down, enjoy the scenery, let someone else do the thinking, and have a great time.  Dick vigorously stated that "I have more interests and potential projects than time," and with Dick's energy and zest for life, I am certain Dick will be sailing with his hobbies for many more years to come.  Thank you Dick for an invigorating visit!

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