Steve Schlange, director of sales and marketing at Pool & Spa News, wrote this column.

On Feb. 9, Jules Field passed away. He was the former publisher of Pool & Spa News, but that title doesn’t tell the whole story. Jules was a businessman who loved his product and passionately believed in the integrity of magazines. He was a connoisseur of fine food and a former tennis pro, a visionary and an entrepreneur. And he was my friend and mentor.

During the 10 years I worked for Jules, I watched his insight and judgment sharpen all who were around him. When Jules liked an idea, he would express his approval in a way that brightened the very core of your being. I can still hear him say “This is wonderful!” in a slightly shaky voice that always punctuated the first syllable of the word “wonderful” more strongly than the rest. He would then proceed to change or “improve your idea” until you barely recognized the concept as your own. But the funny thing was, your idea was inevitably better after he was through working with it.

Jules was a man of great wit. I remember once the company decided to have a surprise party to honor his birthday, and presented him with a crystal apple (a symbol of the knowledge contained in Pool & Spa News). Jules took the podium, reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. Without missing a beat, he said, “I wish I would have known about this. I would have prepared a speech. But luckily for you and me, I have a copy of last year’s.”

Another time, we had a conversation just prior to him having surgery for cataracts, and I could tell he was a little worried. “This is relatively minor surgery, right?” I asked.

Jules’ response was, “It’s always minor when it’s the other guy.”

Jules could be a tough taskmaster, but that’s why pleasing him brought so much pleasure. I’ll always treasure the elation in his voice when we had accomplished a hard project.

His enthusiasm was infectious, and I caught a bad case. I will never forget this man. He stood a little taller than the rest of us and gave me a mark against which to measure myself. I was truly blessed by Jules Field and will miss him deeply.