"The Admiral" Sets Sail to Make Final Voyage
Still reeling from the collapse and subsequent fire of a 10-story storage building at its Lomira, WI facility in early July that killed a cleaning subcontractor, Quad/Graphics suffered an even more devastating blow on July 29 with the accidental drowning of its visionary founder and president. Harry V. "Larry" Quadracci, 66, was laid to rest August 2 following a funeral mass and visitation at The Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, which was attended by about 2,000 people, including family, friends, customers, Quad employees, industry suppliers and fellow printers.
The funeral brought an end to an almost fairy tale-like success story of Quadracci, who was lovingly called "The Admiral" by Quad/Graphics employees in respect for his leadership abilities running the Quad "ship" and the Admiral costumes he sometimes wore during skits performed at elaborate employee Christmas parties.
I first met Harry in 1986 when I inducted him into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame. In 1998, we inducted his father, Harry R., into the Hall of Fame, in recognition of his pioneering efforts with the web offset process at W.A. Krueger. In typical fashion, Harry V. addressed the crowd eloquently for his father, who was near death. He credited the good name in the industry that his father had created, making it easier for Harry V. to launch his then-fledgling company.
I flew from Philadelphia to Milwaukee early that morning to attend the funeral. As I arrived at the Basilica—a magnificent, domed church built in 1901 that was refurbished, in part, with a gift of $500,000 by Quadracci—the line for the viewing stretched outside and around the front, through the basement and up into the church to the altar. Dressed in his Quad-blue, embroidered work shirt and wearing his trademark bow tie, Harry lay in a simple, walnut casket handmade by Trappist monks in Iowa—his Admiral's cap resting on the coffin. A video played on a large screen set up in the basement, showcasing his life, including past employee holiday parties where he sang show tunes and made grand entrances onto the stage riding an elephant, a horse and his Harley, or gliding through the air attached to a high-tension wire. The funeral was broadcast live to employees at Quad/Graphics' network of print production facilities, prepress operations and sales offices.