A Tribute to a Friend: Jack DeBoer
03.15.21 · Sonia Greteman
You never realize the impact a person will have on your life. Hotel magnate Jack DeBoer left an indelible mark on mine.
Through the years, our agency supported Jack in his seemingly endless list of ventures: Summerfield Suites, Sierra Suites, Candlewood Suites, Hotel at Oldtown, WaterWalk. We created logos for his yacht and his aircraft. (Yes, Jack enjoyed the fruits of his efforts.) We helped him publish and promote his book, Risk Only Money.
One year, Jack invited the Greteman Group NBAA contingent to travel with him to the show. It became an annual event. We welcomed the opportunity to experience what we’re so often selling: the benefits of private aviation. Once a loyal Learjet owner, Jack switched to Beech, Hawker then Gulfstream. I like to think he looked forward to our tagging along as much as we did. It was never a quiet ride.
Jack regaled us with stories that mostly made us laugh. But some made us cry – and wince. Shenanigans with his ski bum buddies and Grouchy Old Men. Annual anything-goes parties at Moya Lear’s after the Reno Air Races. Round-the-world, fact-finding tours to determine where he and his beloved wife, Marilyn, could make the most meaningful difference. Depression that sent him to bed for days when a venture failed miserably. How it felt to pick up the phone and hear a creditor’s death threat.
Jack was one heck of a stimulating, smart, sassy friend during the past 25 years. Many times he challenged my thinking, helped me work through something, and gave me opportunities. Words cannot express how much Jack has meant to me and my business and how much I learned from him. I’ve never met anyone like him. Determined, fearless, big-thinker, smarter-than-hell, able to retain and communicate complicated facts. And finally compassionate and generous. He found meaning in his life and shared those hard-won lessons with others, including me. I’ll be eternally grateful.
I always laugh about his favorite candy bar: PayDay. Jack was a quote machine, which is one reason why reporters and editors had him on speed dial. He once said, “Entrepreneurs are by nature overly optimistic.” Maybe that’s what drew me to him.
Thank you, dear friend, for all the great memories.