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Co-founder of Schock boat-building company dies

Betty Schock, whose company built and designed many popular models, described as very business savvy. She was 91.

July 31, 2012|By Mike Reicher

The matriarch of one of Newport Harbor's legendary maritime families has died.

Lido Isle resident Betty Schock, who started the Schock boat-building and sales company with her husband, W.D. "Bill" Schock, in 1946 died July 23. She was 91.

On any given afternoon, sailors young and old take to the Newport's calm waters in a Schock-built boat. From the Lido 14, which debuted in 1958, to today's popular Harbor 20s, the company's boats have played a key role in many sailors' lives in Newport and around the U.S.

Bill designed and built the boats, while Betty ran the boat-builder's office and its marketing department.

"She just liked people, liked to be around them," son Tom Schock said Monday.

Betty and Bill started their business in his parents' Balboa Peninsula home, just up the street from the Rendezvous Ballroom, where the two met in high school.

The couple built boats in Newport until 1959, when the city phased out fiberglass production and its smelly resin, Tom said.

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The Newport-Mesa area used to teem with maritime businesses. At that time, the Schocks moved their boat-building division to Santa Ana, while the sales division stayed in Newport, where it remains today.

Tom and his wife, Jane, continued the boat-building company, W.D. Schock Corp., assuming similar roles as his parents — Tom as designer and Jane as chief marketer. Another of Betty's sons, Scott, took over the sales arm and her third son, Steve, is a maritime architect who helped design some of their most successful models.

Last year, Tom and Jane sold their company after running it for 40 years.

Over the decades, Schock Corp. had many hit boat designs, and a few that didn't catch on, said Lido Isle Yacht Club Commodore Carter Ford.

"They just kept landing on their feet," Ford said.

It was Betty's job to keep the company in the news.

"When the guys did well in the races, she would get it in all the magazines and the newspapers," Tom said.

One of the company's biggest hits was the Lido 14, a family dinghy that was more comfortable and less athletic than similar sized boats from that era.

"They were responsive in designing boats that fulfilled a need that existed, and they did it time and again," Ford said.

Some of Betty's business savvy came from her experience during the Great Depression, when her mother's farm in Selma, Calif., survived when others did not.

"It gave her a great love for family and it gave her a great understanding of the value of the dollar," Tom said.

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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