Gerald E. Boman, 82, who helped start Winnebago Industries with his father-in-law, John K. Hanson, passed away June 20 in Palm City, Fla., where he and his wife Mary Jo Boman maintained a residence for nearly 30 years.
Born in Forest City, Iowa, on Nov. 2, 1935, Boman grew up on the family farm west of the city. In 1955, Boman married high school sweetheart, Mary Jo Hanson, and in the summer of 1959, he joined his father-in-law, John K. Hanson, in starting Winnebago Industries.
It was the beginning of an adventurous 45-year career in which he was a key player in the company’s formation and success. He began in production, becoming production manager in 1960, vice-president of manufacturing and serving on the board of directors in 1962, and then in 1975 became chairman of the executive committee, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors. In 1977, Boman became senior vice-president and remained an active member of the board of directors until retiring in 2010.
During his tenure, Winnebago Industries exploded onto the national scene. One of his most memorable experiences was personally taking part in the company’s initial offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Although motorhomes and travel trailers were always the company’s primary focus, Boman found himself pursuing several unique production challenges: a flying helicopter camper, grain trailers, modular housing, and people-mover trams for Universal Studios.
Boman and Chuck Fenn co-founded the Winnebago International Travelers Club (now Winnebago Itasca Travelers Club) in the early 1970s. His motorhome has always been parked at the top of the River Oaks Amphitheatre for each Grand National Rally.
Click here to read his full obituary on the Cataldo-Schott Funeral Chapel website.