People who knew Al through his 50-plus year career in the industry have begun sharing their memories of Al with us. We would like to share them with you:
I just received my FCNews with the news of Al’s passing. I am deeply saddened. Though it has been many years since I worked with Al in a professional manner, I have spoken with him on a number of occasions since, most recently this past fall. Despite his long struggle with health issues, he was sharp, chipper and full of good memories of those long ago times.
What a loss for the flooring industry! He was unique in his special regard for the industry he chronicled and loved. Looming over all of his journalistic talents was the special care he showed in seeking news that was informative and uplifting.
My dealings with him were always with a total sense of trust. He never succumbed to the temptations to exploit differences or demean individuals. He deserves all of the honor he is receiving. The flooring industry has lost both a giant and a guardian. I join the legions who mourn his death. God bless him.
Al was around all my working life. Wherever I traveled here or abroad, there he was. Thinning hair and eyebrows, blue eyes darting (least he miss something), a smile on his face, and wearing his steel paratrooper ring.
“Hay’a Tommy you old ….. So, what’s doin?”
The man never changed. He was smart, professional, and present in every trade picture. No Al, no picture.
A philosopher and an educated man, he was very kind to me when I needed kindness. I will miss him. To Rose, my deepest sympathy.
The Foundation received a donation from James Dipelesi of Greater New York Floor Coverers. The generosity of others will mean tremendous assistance to people in our industry who are greatly in need.
Al Wahnon, who was one of the great people in our industry, unfortunately passed away at the age of 90 on February 1st. Al was a personal friend and we will all miss him a great deal. His insightful and humorous editorials were always a delight to read. He was a founder of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation and Floor Covering News, and continually committed to the growth, dignity, and the success of the flooring industry.
While there are many newcomers, and those who have come and gone, Al Wahnon stands among the very few giant Redwoods who have seen the old days and successfully forged into the new days—yet beautifully bridged and wrote about all the incredible gaps of everything in between.
Not only did Al accomplish all of that, he accomplished it all with brilliance and style and captured much of it in his beautiful writing over so many years. Al was also a giver extraordinaire, including being one of the cornerstone founders of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.
It is only those closest to Al who truly understand the depth and magic of his brilliance and generosity.
Al was an incredibly seasoned “Tree of Life” in the forest of humanity. He was not only strengthened by the glory of so much beautiful sunshine, his branches were also strengthened by the challenging agonies of many dark winters.
Whether it was fighting in World War II or the incredible battle of a career transformation and reinventing himself and his newspaper, Al prevailed, even forging his own publication through difficult times. Al was also blessed with the love of his wonderful wife, Rose, through all those transitions.
And, of course, I believe the greatest challenge of Al’s life was the transition and passing of his magnificent young son, Leslie, a man who I was lucky enough to call my friend. Les had the same spiritual magic and joie de vivre of his father. He was a beautiful clone of that same enthusiasm with which Al dripped. But Les was a young man who died much too soon. My comfort is that I am sure Al had Les on his mind during his last moments of his earthly years. And, in some dimension, no matter our beliefs or religion, there is a “tickly thought,” some remote possibility we may see a great loved one again. Al and Rose love Les so much. And, no, time does not heal all wounds.
But, at this time of Al’s passing, it should not be about sadness. For Al was a great gift upon this earth. Yes, even his insanity. Thinking about it, Al is still a great gift upon this earth—his energy is making me smile right now.
So, my dear friend Al, who transitioned me from a young guy in the carpet business, from my beginning days with Mohawk in Amsterdam, N.Y., the Korvette’s days, Danny Schoen, Nat Shore, Gene Barwick, Bud Seretean, and so many more, I thank you for your guiding hand.
Al Wahnon was a walking history book of our industry who, like the Energizer Bunny, kept going and going, right to the end of his beautiful life.
If the grounds of heaven have floor covering other than clouds, I am sure we shall be hearing about it shortly.
With much love,
Al Wahnon was a good friend of my own beloved partner, Howard Olansky, and myself. He had a way with words that few people possess and a heart to match. He will be remembered for his positive, humane, and constructive viewpoints and writing.
His many years of service straddled the modern Floor Covering Industry from the time when the early pioneers of broadloom first put a backing on bedspreads and called it “broadloom” to the present day. Like Howard, he was a true pioneer. Al served the people in the floor covering industry well for many years and will be missed.
My name is Helen Marcus and I am a very old friend of Al’s. My husband was Jim Marcus and Larry Nagle was his partner and my dear friend. I’m in a totally different end of the business; I supply hand made rugs for hotels but I love Floor Covering News. Lew Migliore told me today about Al’s passing and I am truly devastated.
You will get a ton of these letters, I know, but I could not let this go by without writing you. I am sure that you are inconsolable but good memories linger on.
I had the best time with Al and really like his editorial. I often wrote him and he said I was his best fan. And I was for many, many years. I had such respect for his talent and his humanity.
I send you good thoughts.
I know he is forever in the cloud of witnesses that surround this blessed earth life.
He would have it no other way.
Can you imagine what he sees, as he has a chance—FINALLY—to see the full beauty of his own soul?!
Please accept my sympathies on the passing of your founder and publisher, Al Wahnon. I’m sure you will all miss him greatly, as will the industry. I last saw him at your 2010 awards dinner and had the pleasure of sitting at his table; that evening he shared so many stories with us.
With all best wishes to you,
It’s been more than a quarter-century since I sent my first story to Al. At his insistence, I had a Quip machine in my office (a forerunner of the FAX) just for him, so he could get information faster than anyone else. I recently read that Dr. Hunter S. Thompson had a similar gadget, which he christened “the mojo wire.”
Like Hunter, Al had more than enough mojo for a small army of men.
Al was demanding, and he made us all better communicators and businesspeople for it. He knew what was news and what wasn’t. He handled controversial topics when he needed to. But even when he needed to be critical, he was always an advocate and cheerleader for the industry.
We are all better for it.
Thanks, Al. Godspeed.
I just saw the announcement, and Al’s passing certainly saddens me. What a great guy.
Sonna spoke of him so often of how he was and how he gave Sonna her start.
What a loss…
A friend called me just now with the sad news about Al’s passing. He was amazing, had a great sense of humor and huge energy.
Last time I saw him was at a memorial service for a woman, Pat Chapman, who had at one time worked for him, (1,000 years ago as it was 1,000 years before I knew her as well). It was only a few years ago and he was in fine fettle and when he spoke about her, he made us laugh, a hard thing to do at a sad occasion.
My thoughts are with all of you.
Trust you’re fine.
Just read about Al Wahnon a few minutes ago. So sorry to hear.
Sending sympathy & concern,
It was a shock to hear that Al passed away. I had just finished writing him a cheery note from CFI and answered the phone. While doing that, I pulled up the news for today and discovered he had died. I know this is a very difficult time for all of you and we will keep you in our prayers. What a wonderful man and so full of life for this industry. He will be greatly missed.
Al was indeed a true friend of CFI and the flooring industry, always sharing his ideas in a joyful way with others. He had worked in this industry for over 50 years and helped create the Floor Covering Industry Foundation that helps so many. He will always be known as one that gave so much to help so many. Al will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
We were very sorry to hear the news of Al Wahnon’s passing. Please accept our heartfelt condolences.
Diane Choate and the MAPEI Family
I just heard about Al. He was an industry icon. He was there from the very beginning. He loved this industry. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you at this time.
Sorry to hear about Al. He was certainly one-of-a-kind and a great advocate of the industry.
I was so sorry to learn about Al’s passing and I wanted to reach out to the FCN staff to offer my most sincere condolences. I have very fond memories of Al and he was always a great supporter of Pergo and me personally, which I will always remember. He was a pioneer and an icon in the floor covering industry and an energetic, vocal and very professional editor of your paper. He will be sorely missed.
With my fondest regards,
Lars von Kantzow
Our deepest condolences on Al’s passing.
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Al Wahnon, editor and publisher of Floor Covering News, a 50-plus year veteran of the floor covering industry, a founding member of the Long Island Floor Covering Association and a true legend in the industry.
Our sympathies and condolences go out to Al’s family, his colleagues at FCN and his friends everywhere.
Long Island Floor Covering Association
I just read about Al. It came as a surprise and I will be praying for the family and all of you there.
My condolences to you, and everyone at FCN on Al’s passing.
Just read the news about Al. So sorry to hear that.
I was sorry to hear about Al’s passing. He was a good friend for many years.
He certainly was a moving force for good in the industry. I loved his perspective, hard work and hands-on reporting with an attitude. He will be missed.
It was not long ago I too suffered the loss of a dear friend, mentor, boss, and so much more. I just read of Al’s passing. I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know Al that well, but right after Sonna passed away he called me directly and we talked, it felt like a conversation with an old friend. He gave Sonna her start in this industry. He was one of the great one’s right along with Sonna. The industry has lost another legend.
It’s up to people like you and I now to continue the work they started in us.
I hope that we can all be friends for a long, long time.
If there is anything we can do or I can do personally, please let me know.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and the staff at FCNews.