The Many We’ll Miss

As Jan notes in this week’s issue, our good friend Tom Schrack Sr., who with his sons and son-in-law revived the venerable dealership Hockenbergs, passed away last week. It’s a cliché when we lose someone to say he was a nice guy. But I can assure you that in Tom’s case, this is no cliché. I’ve known Tom for more than 35 years. I can tell you he didn’t cheat at golf. And I believe he never cheated a customer or a supplier. Tom gave the lie to another cliché: Nice guys finish last. Rest in peace, my friend.

Then came news about the Dec. 4 death of Ed Hubert, who was instrumental in growing his family’s Ohio dealership into one of biggest in the country.

Their passings remind me that at this time of year, we like to remember those we’ve lost in the past year. Unfortunately, the list this year includes many friends and many who helped create the foodservice and foodservice equipment and supplies industries. Here’s the roll call, more or less in chronological order.

–Ed Gaylord, founder of Gaylord Industries, now part of ITW’s Food Equipment Group.

–Gabe Aguirre, a good guy who owned and operated SaniServ Corp. from 1977-95.

–John Farquaharson, a long-time executive at Aramark and a former president of the National Restaurant Association, who is often called “the father of Serv-Safe.”

–Charles Session Sr., a prominent dealer in the St. Louis area.

–Shelley Feldman, who in his 60+ year career, was several times an operator, but who also ran one of the first E&S conglomerates, McGraw-Edison, and later was an executive at Alco Foodservice, the progenitor of Welbilt.

–Michael Johnson, FFCSI. “Brother” Michael was a close friend to many of us, a gifted design consultant, principal at Hilliker Assocates, later the Culinary Design Studio, a former president and fellow of FCSI, and a bigger-than-life character. I will always treasure the sight of Michael turning up to judge the Restaurants & Institutions‘ Facilities Design Awards dressed in a robe and wig.

–John Minahan, president at Federal Industries, now part of Standex Foodservice. He was a gentleman of the first order in everything he did.

–Don Patterson, who for more than 25 years was a key part of the Aramark facilities design team and through his career, upgraded hundreds of kitchens with his designs and the equipment standards he maintained for the company.

–Our dear friend Tony Rapanotti, dedicated board member of the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association, and head of AR Repairs/Baker’s Kneads. Another character bigger than life.

–David Theno, senior v.p. and food safety officer at Jack-in the-Box, who is often called the man who saved the chain after a devastating e. coli outbreak. He created processes and standards used across the industry to this day.

–Siegfried Meister, the founder, owner and long-time head of Rational. He is credited with helping invent the combination oven-steamer and built a company the sells more than half a billion dollars worth of combis a year worldwide.

–Chuck Eiwen, a former board member at CFESA and president of Dauber’s Inc.

–And by no means least, our friend Ed Degnan, long-time equipment specialist at Subway Restaurants, whose equipment and purchasing organization won the first FER Management Excellence Award for large chain operations in 2013. Ed changed the business forever when he worked out a plan to have Coca-Cola help Subway’s franchisees obtain fast ovens. But he was also just a great guy.

These fine people helped create this business. It’s our duty to honor them and our responsibility to continue their good work.


Robin Signature

Robin Ashton



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