John Wallace, who established one of Sacramento’s largest pool service companies, has passed away. He was 70.

The founder of Swim Chem died on Dec. 26 following a heart attack and stroke.

“He was always willing to sit down and talk to people, whether it was about plaster or chemistry or anything else,” recalled his son, Jerry Wallace.

“I don’t know if people realize how much he gave to others,” Jerry added. “He did really well in this business, but he didn’t keep a lot of it for himself.”

Wallace started his career on a plastering crew in Fresno in the early 1960s. Soon afterward, he obtained a contractor’s license and launched his own plastering company, later adding concrete flatwork and excavation to the portfolio.

In 1970, Wallace opened a pool service business in Sacramento, and spent the next several years building up the company. Eventually he acquired another firm, this one based in Tracy, Calif., about 60 miles away.

Starting in the mid-1990s, Wallace closely oversaw the Tracy operation, while Jerry took charge of the Sacramento location and much of the company’s corporate dealings. The business covered about 2,700 residential pools in Sacramento, and another 2,300 in Tracy.

In late 2004, Wallace’s wife Charlene became ill, and he effectively retired from active work to help care for her.

Wallace sold the business to Jerry in 2008, but still maintained an office and kept up on industry news and trends.

In addition to his work with the National Spa & Pool Institute (now APSP), as well as the National Plasterers Council and SPEC, Wallace was instrumental in bringing youth sports to the Sacramento suburb of Roseville.

“He had such a good heart,” Jerry recalled. “He just couldn’t tell people ‘No.’ Giving back to the industry and to the community is really the big thing.”

Case in point: In the early 1970s, Wallace petitioned the local school district to include soccer as a high school sport. He also helped launch a youth soccer league, serving as its inaugural president in 1975.

“It really meant a lot to him,” Jerry said. “And I know the kids truly enjoyed and appreciated having him around.”