JAMES W. COMBEE, Jr. – 75 – Airboat Manufacturing Company
AUBURNDALE -- What started off as sort of a hobby for Mr. James W. Combee Jr. expanded into a worldwide airboat manufacturing company.The retired owner of Combee Airboats in Lake Hamilton died of a heart attack Monday (March 13, 2006) at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He was 75.
"He has boats all over this country and a lot of them in foreign countries," his wife of 54 years, Carolyn Combee, said.Mr. Combee was at least a third generation native of Polk County and was born in Lakeland on May 24, 1930.
He attended Inwood Elementary School and Winter Haven High School. After his father suffered a heart attack, Mr. Combee took over Combee's Grocery Store and Gas Station, operating the business from 1948 to 1964.
Mr. Combee was a longtime seaplane pilot and certified to work on engines. In 1978, he started Combee Airboats in Lake Hamilton."He started it as a hobby, and our son decided to go into it with him. They assembled the boats and sold them," Carolyn Combee said. "He and my son went around and they were always so nice to people they had a lot of repeat business."Mr. Combee semi-retired after having heart surgery in 1996. He attended Victory Assembly of God Church in Lakeland.
In addition to his wife, Carolyn Combee, Mr. Combee is survived by his daughter, Catherine L. Combee, Auburndale; sons, James W. Combee III, Tampa, Richard M. Combee, Bruce R. Combee, both of Winter Haven; six grandchildren.
Visitation will be Sunday at Mitchell Dinan Funeral Home. Services are Monday at the funeral home chapel. - Ledger, March 17, 2006