The Last Word

Farewell to Jerry LundquistA Businessman, a Gentleman … and a Friend 

By Brian E. Rowland

In early February, a man who made a huge difference in his world – and to me – passed away suddenly in the presence of his best friend, who is also his loving wife, in Sandestin.

I heard the sad news and, for the next three days I woke at 3 a.m. unable to fall back asleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about Jerry Lundquist, the many things he gave to the communities he lived in, and the untold number of people his life and spirit affected.

I met Jerry 30 years ago when I was an ad sales rep making a call at a Tallahassee haberdashery. Jerry overheard my efforts, approached me and, after only a few moments, convinced me to come work for him and represent Tallahassee Magazine, which was only two issues old at the time.

I had a little workstation across from his office and throughout the next decade had the privilege to watch and learn from Jerry as he built a nationwide network of real estate publications called Homes & Land.

Jerry was a visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit that inspired me each day. His door was always open to any employee who wanted to talk. A devoted Christian man who lived by his principles, Jerry exemplified the true tenets of leadership exemplified by active community involvement and philanthropic activities.

Over the years, community leaders came and went. Businesspeople from all over the country came to learn about starting their Homes & Land franchise. He met with each and infused in them the spirit of success and positive thinking.

Jerry cared for his many employees. An avid outdoorsman, he often would be found cooking fresh fish with his senior staff and serving them up, knowing each person’s name and usually the name of their spouse.

Jerry allowed me to earn success while working for him. He empowered me to run with an idea and to build a national ad sales program for Homes & Land’s national network of magazines as I continued to sell Tallahassee Magazine.

One day, he tearfully announced to his employees on the front steps of his office that Homes & Land had been sold. At his side were his wife, Marge, and sons, Brent and Brian, who were the foundation of his life and continued to be until his last breath in February.

In a roundabout way, what you hold in your hand today is a continuing gift from Jerry. Here’s why:

With the kindness and generosity Jerry was known for, he changed my life one day in 1990 by allowing me to purchase Tallahassee Magazine from him – at a cost far below market value. Years later when I asked him why, he said:

“Because you were a good soldier, and I knew you would carry on what I started, take it to the next level and do it right.”

Over the years I tried to lead and grow the business that Jerry entrusted me and, inspired by his entrepreneurial spirit, I decided to launch my own magazine. The first issue of Emerald Coast Magazine was published in the spring of 2000.

Jerry courageously recovered from a major stroke in the early ’90s with the same determination he used to build his company. He retired with Marge to the Emerald Coast and – not being one to sit around for too long – he continued to do what he loved; spending time with his family, being active in his church, interacting with people and working. On my regular trips over to Destin building Emerald Coast Magazine, I would always look him up and visit. I always left feeling inspired and more motivated.

As I sit at my desk at 4:30 a.m. writing this with a tear in my eye and my Adam’s apple aching, I know my life would not be what it is today without the influence and opportunities given to me by this kind and gentle man.

Jerry Lundquist, the spirit you instilled in me will live in me forever. I know the world is a better place today because of your presence and generosity.