Willard Allen Speakman III, 67, of Greenville, DE, died suddenly in Antigua, British West Indies, on April 11, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He received his B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1960, then completed his military service at Fort Benning, GA. He joined the Speakman Co., founded by his great-grandfather, in 1962 and in 1971 succeeded his father, Willard Allen Speakman Jr., as president. He became chairman in 1978 and remained in that position until his death. He promoted free market principles and ideas and was committed to education, reading and literacy. His personal hero was Winston Churchill. He took pride in his Quaker heritage. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie du Pont Bredin Speakman; a daughter, granddaughter, sister, nieces, a stepson and stepdaughter. Donations may be made in his name to the University of Delaware Library Associates, Morris Library, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-5267; the Mill Reef Fund, P.O. Box 133, Mill Reef, Antigua, B.W.I.; or the Nantucket Atheneum, 1 India Street, P.O. Box 808, Nantucket, MA 02554.
Thomas J. Higgins Sr., 71, died March 22 due to complications from lung cancer. Although he lived in the Chicago area for the last 33 years of his life, he remained true to his Brookyn, NY roots. He joined Lamco, a New England manufacturers rep agency of plumbing and heating supplies in the late 1960s, where he won many national salesman of the year awards. In 1973 he was offered the northern Illinois sales territory for a major manufacturer. He named his new company Topco. In 1983 he changed the company name to Thomas J. Higgins Co. and expanded into warehousing and distribution for the manufacturers represented. The company became a rep for Charlotte Pipe and Foundry and supplied pipe and fittings to major construction projects in the Chicago area such as McCormick Place and Soldier Field. Today Higgins Co. operates from a 65,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Glendale Heights, IL and is run by his two eldest sons, Tom Jr. and Brian.
Higgins helped people overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol through positive encouragement and mentoring, and supported Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago. He is survived by his wife, Ann; four sons, two daughters, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. More than 1,300 people attended his wake and funeral combined
Michael J. McQueeny Sr., 76, a Kansas City, MO-based manufacturers representative, died March 17 after a long illness following surgery in January. He co-founded the McQueeny-Cain Co. in 1961 representing plumbing, heating and ventilation manufacturers. The business expanded to include offices in five locations covering Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. The original company continues to operate under several entities:
McQueeny-Lock Co. (plumbing), McQueeny Group (HVAC), Westport Products (retail), and Airfixture (HVAC ventilation). When he retired in 1997 he was able to devote more time to his hobbies, including model railroading, reading and traveling. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; six children and their spouses, and 15 grandchildren.