Q & A: Frank Samsel

It’s hard to imagine any good resulting from the infamous June 22, 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, but the incident sparked the mid-1970’s environmental movement and inspired creation of new technologies to clean water and air. The fire was also one impetus for the federal Clean Water Act. Frank Samsel, a lifelong Greater Cleveland resident, was an innovator and unsung hero in the river cleanup. He designed a boat, the Putzfrau (German for “cleaning lady”) that removed solid waste, oil and petroleum products from the river. Earlier in life, he had sailed the Cuyahoga and Lake Erie on bulk carriers, and received training as a welder. After a stint in the military during the Korean War, he sold wire rope, tackle blocks and rope fittings for the Upson-Walton Co. In 1958, he branched out on his own and established Samsel Supply, which carries construction, industrial and maritime supplies. Today, the 87-year-old lives in Avon. His five children still run Samsel Supply on Old River Road in the Flats. Fresh Water contributor Bob Sandrick caught up with Samsel to chat about his experiences sailing the lake and cleaning the Cuyahoga. To hear about Samsel’s experiences check out page 40 in SlingMakers Magazine, Issue 155.




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