Jules Field, Pool & Spa News’ former owner and publisher, died Feb. 9 of pneumonia in Laguna Hills, Calif. He was 92.
Field purchased the magazine, then called Pool News, in 1961, shortly after its inception. He was publisher until June 2001, when his company, Leisure Publications, sold Pool & Spa News to Hanley Wood.
“Jules was an incredible person who cared about his magazines long after they were sold. While highly knowledgeable about the pool and spa industry, he was also a publishing expert who built his magazines into dominant national brands. All of us at Hanley Wood will certainly miss him,” said Dick Coleman, publisher of Pool & Spa News and Aquatics International.
Cited by many as a pioneer, Field was known for his deep commitment to the industry.
“He really liked the entrepreneurial, small-business individual,” said Vance Gillette, executive vice president of Jandy in Novato, Calif. “He deeply cared and connected with the owners of these small companies. It was more than what he did for a living. The industry was part of him and vice versa.”
Jules Field was born April 22, 1915, in the Bronx, N.Y. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in languages from New York University in 1936, originally intending to be a French teacher. He helped put himself through school by working as a tennis instructor at a Catskills resort. Field also served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
After completing his education, he moved to California and began a career in sales, beginning with carpeting, coin-operated laundries and products from Baja, Calif.
Field entered the world of publishing in the 1950s, when he joined trade magazine Industrial News as its advertising director. Just six months after Pool News was launched, he came on board as a publisher.
“It was losing money for its owners, and his assignment was to turn it around,” said Nancy Field, his wife and former Leisure Publications president. He did just that and purchased the publication shortly thereafter.
Field made his presence known right away — and not only by passing out his trademark apples at shows.
“He set a new precedent for covering National Spa & Pool Institute board meetings, committee meetings and regional activities,” Nancy Field said. “PSN soon became the leader [with] the latest news, which was the edge it had over the two competitors of the time.”
To maintain that advantage, he sought out a printer who would accept copy until the day before the magazine went to press.
Field’s mission was to deliver industry news and education on a wide range of subjects, and many remember him for his journalistic expertise and editorial integrity.
“Jules was a very good journalist and, I think, the conscience of the industry for a long time,” said Joel Caesar, former executive director of the Northeast Spa & Pool Association. “He set the tone for good journalism in an industry where there really wasn’t [any].”
Bill Kent, owner/president of Team Horner Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., called Field’s reporting fair and balanced, and said his journalistic contribution went beyond relaying the facts.
“He had a great sense of the industry from 30,000 feet. He knew how to report and stay abreast of what was happening,” Kent said.
Field was known as an advocate and uniter, someone who worked behind the scenes to bring the industry together for the good of the big picture.
“He always felt that the industry came first, before any individuals, and that we had to work together in order to prosper,” said Al Silverman, a consultant with International Profit Associates in Brooklyn, N.Y.
George Kazdin remembers one particular NSPI Board meeting, when the group split over an issue.
“Some harsh words were exchanged,” said the president of Kazdin Pools & Spas Inc. in Southampton, NY. “Jules made sure that a couple of us … and a couple of them broke bread one night at dinner to work out our differences.”
Several industry honors came Field’s way. In 1989, he was given the NSPI Eagle Award for his commitment and service to the hot-water industry. In 1988, NSPI’s Southern California Chapter presented him with a Special Recognition crystal goblet.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Field expanded his publishing niche. In 1985, the Fields purchased Fitness Management, and retained that magazine after the Hanley Wood purchase.
In 1997, they bought Aquatics International, which addresses the management of aquatics facilities and now is also published by Hanley Wood. “Jules thought it would be a good sister publication to Pool & Spa News,” Nancy Field said. “PSN generally focused on residential pools, and AI was an opportunity to be involved with the municipal and waterpark sector.”
Field maintained a love of tennis throughout his life. “He was on the courts at least an hour a day until he was into his late 70s,” Nancy Field said. He also had a passion for reading, travel, trying out new restaurants and watching foreign films.
“I think the people who knew him in the industry will remember him for his quick wit,” Nancy Field said. “And if the readers remember him for contributing, in part, to the success of their businesses,
I think he will be able to rest in peace knowing he accomplished what he expected of himself.”
Besides his wife, Nancy, Jules Field is survived by son Steve Field, daughter Elizabeth Field Robbins, grandson Geoffrey Field, granddaughter Cristina Field Treminio and great-grandson Andres Treminio. He was predeceased by grandson Alexander Robbins.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Fund or Doctors Without Borders.