Spring turned into a sad time for us here at Universal Unilink when our longtime colleague and friend Joe Stewart, who essentially founded the company alongside President Allan Fowler, passed away suddenly on April 10th. Joe was 70.
As most of you know, Joe was a critical part of our team in handling both Supplier and Member Relations. He had been with Universal since the mid-1990s and was characterized by many you as “the nicest man,” “a genuine guy,” and “a great man and a good friend.”
“Of course, this is a loss that hits our team here at Universal hard. Joe had so much to do with touching our Members and helping them on a daily basis—but we’re also a family here, and we all were just shocked and saddened to lose Joe so suddenly,” Allan observed. “For me, it’s like losing a brother. Joe and I spent so much time together getting this company off the ground, servicing our Members, and cultivating our Suppliers, but also watching each other’s families bloom and grow. Naturally, our thoughts are with his wife Ann, his daughter Jodi, and his granddaughters. This has affected us all.”
Your thoughts and prayers are deeply appreciated and have meant so much as we work through this change. Here’s what some of you have had to say:
“He always took care of me when I needed his advice,” – Bobby Genovese of Christopher’s.
“What an incredible shock!! Joe was such a personable man, we enjoyed all the time we spent with he and Ann at the conferences over the years. Our deepest sympathy to all of you at Universal Unilink, we all lost a great man and a great friend.” – Bob Carpenter and Tim Andrews, New Service Concepts
“So sorry to hear this news. Joe was a great man and a great asset to Universal Unilink. He will be dearly missed. All our thoughts and prayers go out to both the Universal and Stewart families and friends.” – Dean Jones, ERB/Fame
“So sorry to hear about Joe. He was a delight to know and please know my thoughts and prayers are with his family and all that knew him at this difficult time.” – Mickey Kelly, Alliance Mercantile
“I was shocked & deeply saddened to read today of Joe’s sudden loss…Joe was the consistent thread between us over these 19+ years of association. From UPA’s inception & my membership, through growth & Unilink acquisition, Joe was always there to serve, teach, help & be his fun and warm self. Joe was indeed a family member to me and my company…(h)e will be sorely missed, but remembered often. He truly made his mark on myself, association members, & this industry. You should feel blessed to have known him, as well as be associated with him. That is how I feel too.” – Barry Arkush, Uncle Ben’s Uniforms
In addition to being committed to his wife, Ann, and his family, Joe was an avid supporter of his church and of several community organizations for whom he frequently organized golf tournaments to raise funds. He enjoyed golfing himself at every opportunity.
Again, our sincere thanks to each of you who took a moment to share how much Joe meant to you.