Theos Raymond Pelle was a toolmaker by trade and a dedicated entrepreneurial force behind the growth of custom injection molder DJ Inc. of Louisville.
He died of heart disease March 5 in Louisville at the age of 75. He had been in declining health, but years ago he survived two serious cancer episodes.
He served with the Army Air Corps during World War II and went through an apprenticeship program at GE Appliances in the 1950s.
Beginning in 1960, he formed three businesses, including a tool and molding shop and a scuba-diving shop. Pelle and Bobby Allen co-founded DJ in Louisville in 1971 and, subsequently, DJ opened plants in El Paso, Texas, in 1993 and Hazzard, Ky., in 1996.
Pelle was DJ's president and chief executive officer for 26 years. DJ had annual sales of about $82 million in August 1997 when Nypro Inc. acquired the business.
Nypro of Clinton, Mass., contacted DJ about a possible partnership in 1991, and the principals continued to communicate. Pelle's commitment to quality and long-term customer relationships impressed Nypro Chairman Gordon Lankton.
Survivors include Pelle's wife, Joan Ann, and two sons and a daughter who continue with the business operations under Nypro's control.
Harry R. Pelle is vice president of manufacturing, Bruce A. Pelle is manager of continuous improvement and Donna Brown is executive administration manager. A granddaughter, Aimee Siegrest, is executive assistant to the Louisville plant manager.