Tributes to wayne rourke

Gordon Flagler, Cookstoves Canada

Wayne Rourke – My Friend

The first time I met Wayne was in the Spring of 1980. I had been asked to speak at Wayne’s Fisher Stoves dealer meeting. We spent several days together. He was funny and extremely generous. He asked a lot of questions and really listened. Wayne became extremely successful because he paid close attention to trends and sought out the best suppliers.

I knew Wayne as a friend and we also did business together. He built a first-rate organization which is still a model in the industry. He recognized the need for strong International and National Associations and worked hard to build both. His suppliers knew he would ask tough questions but also knew no one would be more loyal or work harder to sell their product.

We shared a love of the water. We went sailing the first time we met, and over the decades we explored both the coast of BC and the Thousand Islands of Ontario. Our last visit was in his beloved Powell River. We saw Humpback Whales and sailed into Desolation Sound. I will never forget that day. I was also honoured to have Wayne visit me twice on his retirement trip across Canada with Zoe and their children. I never saw him happier than on that RV trip from BC to Newfoundland and back.

Wayne, thanks for being my friend… Gordon

Ray Bonar, ICC-RSF

In the early days of ICC we were extremely fortunate to have two people who continuously coached us to become a better manufacturer. One was our old friend Tom Pugh and the other was Wayne. In those days I would speak with Tom most evenings, often for an hour or more. Tom had ESP, he consistently called just as my family sat down for dinner.

Wayne was equally consistent – he’d call at 8am, just as I arrived in the office. That’s 8am St. Jerome time, 5am Vancouver time!

In those days we were a challenging supplier, to say the least. But no matter how badly we screwed up, and there were some doozies over the years, he never raised his voice; he’d calmly point out how our mistake created a problem and coach us on what we needed to do to correct it.

It’s rare that a customer works so hard to improve a supplier’s business, but that was Wayne’s style. He was always making positive suggestions on ways we could improve and his criticisms were always well thought out, and well intended.

Northwest Stoves was our very first Canadian distributor; Wayne took a chance on us when our business was far more promise than reality. His credibility gave us credibility, at a time when we’d earned very little on our own. Wayne’s word alone got us in doors that would have taken us years without him and his quiet support behind the scenes helped us to secure some of the best distributors in the industry.

Wayne built Northwest Stoves into one of the premiere distributors in North America. He did it with honesty, intelligence, hard work and integrity. We are extremely fortunate and grateful for all his years of advice, business and especially, friendship.

Laura Litchfield, HPBAC

Wayne was the first President/Board Member I worked with when I started at HPBAC over 20 years ago. He was always generous with his time and knowledge. I don’t think I would have made it through my first year without his help and guidance. I’m sure I made a nuisance of myself but he was always gracious and patient. Over the years, I enjoyed his candour and wry sense of humour and always tracked him down at Expo for a chat.

During his cross-country retirement trip with his family I was so pleased when the Rourkes stopped by our home in Huntsville to have dinner with me and my family. I remember that Wayne insisted he provide the steaks for dinner and that we had a lot of laughs. It was such a pleasure to get to know his family and my heart goes out to them now.


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