Founder of Cherubini Boat Co. dies

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Leon Francis “Frit” Cherubini, founder of New Jersey’s Cherubini Boat Co., passed away at his home in Port St. Lucie, Fla., last month after a long illness. He was 87.

As president and hands-on builder of the Cherubini 44 and 48, Cherubini saw his company garner worldwide attention with consistent mentions in Sail, Yachting, Cruising World, and three books by yachting author Ferenc Maté.

Throughout his life, boatbuilding work was a significant family and professional focus for Cherubini. With his brothers John, Richard, Joe and Tom, Frit launched the Sea Scamp line of plywood and clinker-built runabouts in the 1950s.

In the early 1970s, Frit and John began a project in Frit’s Burlington, N.J., home workshop to build two 44-foot yachts for their retirement. The Cherubini 44 was tentatively advertised in a late-1974 issue of National Fisherman. Demand followed, requiring the swift construction of a mold, which, after 34 hulls and 30 years of maintenance, is still in service.

The Cherubini Boat Company introduced the 48-foot staysail schooner in 1983. Frit and his wife Bette retired to an active social life in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he took up tennis and was honored with a community championship.

Following Frit’s retirement, his son Lee took over the reins of the company through the 1990s and now serves as a family standard-bearer and technical advisor to his cousins at the reincarnated Cherubini Yachts, LLC, in New Jersey.

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