By Tim Kowols
Over the last 43 years, it would have been quite difficult to get to Washington Island without the help of a Purinton. Dick Purinton and his wife moved back to Door County in late 1974 after being stationed in California with the U.S. Navy to help his in-laws with the Washington Island Ferry operation they bought into in 1940. Over the years the Washington Island Ferry upgraded from two wooden ferries to its current Coast Guard-approved vessels, which Purinton says is just part of the evolution the company has made.
Purinton credits the economy, active marketing, and the county’s growth for the Washington Island Ferry’s recent success, but is quick to also thank the local community for their role as well.
A 2016 Door County Maritime Museum Mariner Award winner, Purinton currently helps as a Cherry Train operator and Rock Island Ferry captain after years of holding just about every job with the Washington Island Ferry, including company president. His son Hoyt carries on the Purinton tradition as the current president of the Washington Island Ferry.