Justina Hewes was hardworking and resourceful. She was the widowed mother to three boys (Bill, born 1915; Bob, born 1916, and Ralph, born 1919) who lived in Colville, Washington during a difficult economic time. Bill lost his life in his early 20s as a result of a tragic auto accident. Bob was mechanically gifted, left school after the eighth grade, bought a logging truck (for $10), and went to work in the timber industry. Ralph worked hard on his studies and, after graduating early from high school, he worked six 10-hour days every week at a bakery.
When Bob and Ralph weren’t hard at work, they were building and flying their own airplanes. This experience prepared them for service as airmen in World War II. Following the war, with added experience in aircraft piloting, repair, and maintenance, Bob and Ralph returned home to Colville and opened a pilot school to serve veterans looking to improve their education on the G.I. Bill. They called their school Hewes Flying Service.
As business at the piloting school waned, Bob and three of his friends decided to build their own fishing boats. Bob traveled to a junk dealer in Spokane, Washington where he purchased aluminum sheet and other supplies. After three boats were built (and Bob’s buddies could now go fishing instead of building boats) Bob had to recruit his younger brother, Ralph, to help construct his boat. Local outdoorsmen began to see these small, well-built fishing boats out on local waters, and suddenly, a family business was born. Bob and Ralph built boats under their Hewes Flying Service company name starting in 1948. In 1952, they changed the name to Hewes Marine Company.