Frank (Francesco) P. Morsilli, founder, chairman and former president of Dryvit Systems Inc., died in Naples, Fla., in May 2.

Dryvit’s roots began in New England in 1969 and developed and marketed EIFS for both new construction and the retrofit of older buildings. Dryvit has been successfully used on over 50,000 commercial buildings and residences worldwide. The company has operated manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Canada, and one in South Korea. In 1988, he received the Pinnacle Award from The Association of Wall and Ceilings Industries. Also, in 1988 he sent the entire Rhode Island Special Olympics team to South Korea to compete. He sold Dryvit in 1990.

He was a supporter of his alma mater, University of Rhode Island, and established The Sandra Ann Morsilli Pacific Basin Capital Markets Research Center in memory of his daughter. He was also inducted into the URI Business Hall of Fame.

He spent a total of 28 years in the Navy—five years in active duty and the following 23 years in the Naval Reserve. He served aboard the USS Tarawa during the Korean War and retired as a Captain.

Morsilli was an accomplished drummer and started two bands during his time in Florida. One, a 16-piece “big band” and the other a jazz quintet. Both bands played various venues over the years.

He was also a proficient artist and spent many days painting, drawing and sketching. He continued both hobbies well into later life.

He is survived by his partner of many years, Martha; his daughter Debora, son Peter, and daughter in-law Susan (Ferrazza), his grandchildren, Christopher, Nicole, Marcus, Daniel, Andrew and three great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife Janice, daughter Sandra, and grandson Matthew.

From Buck Buchanan’s recent EIFS chronicled book “Behind the Walls”:

“Francesco Pietro Morsilli was born August 3, 1931 to Italian immigrants Peter and Clementina Morsilli in North Providence, Rhode Island. As a young boy he began to work for his father who was a journeyman plasterer. He paid his own way through college by working construction in the summer and waiting tables during the school year. He even made a few nickels playing drums for a jazz band. He would continue his love for music the rest of his life.

“In 1953, Frank graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Business Administration. Soon after, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he was commissioned as an ensign. After serving as a Surface Warfare Officer during the Korean War, he was discharged in 1957 and continued his Naval career in the reserves. Some 20 years later, he retired with the rank of Captain. He began a career selling brick and would soon own the company he worked for but he wanted more and began to look for other options. In October 1969, Frank founded Dryvit Systems Inc. This would be the beginning of the EIFS Industry in the United States.

“Some 20 years later, by the time Frank reached 55 years old, he began to think about selling. The timing was right. Dryvit was on top of its game and had become the ‘Kleenex’ of the EIFS industry. Three years later he sold his business to Narragansett Capital, a Rhode Island-based private-equity firm and retired to Florida.

“At the time of the sale, Dryvit had four manufacturing plants in the U.S., two in Canada, a company in the UK, and a partnership in Korea with plans to add operations in Australia. In the U.S., the company had a nationwide distribution network and more than 1,000 applicators. As the number-one EIFS brand, Dryvit held close to 50 percent market share.

“Frank expected a lot from the people in his company and paid them well. He always tried to hire the best people, who were smarter and more talented than he was. Although he was hard on the managers who didn’t get the job done, he always appreciated the rank-and-file employees and treated them with respect. At the time of the sale, all plants were nonunion; workers were well paid, had good benefits, and were treated fairly.

“People who worked for Frank either loved or hated him. He was very focused and kept driving until his goals were met, a quality that worked for some, but not for others. His drive engendered the EIFS business as it would evolve into a billion-dollar industry. His entrepreneurial spirit made Dryvit a success and set the tone for the entire EIFS industry.

“In Florida, he dabbled in various businesses, but never rekindled the fire he had when leading Dryvit to success. Although many tried to copy Frank’s formula for success, none accomplished what he did during the first 20 years of the industry. However people felt about him, no one disputes his role as the father of the EIFS industry in the United States. Not bad for the son of Italian immigrants.

“As he settled down to life after Dryvit, he continued playing his drums and joined a local jazz band. He also enjoyed entertaining the old Dryvit gang, made up of some of the original Dryvit distributors, who dropped in on him from time to time. Then there were the days when Frank just sat on his back porch, looking out at the blue waters of the Gulf, reflecting on the Dryvit days.”