John McDaniel

John McDaniel, the president/CEO of Memphis Pool, died Feb. 21 of throat cancer. He was 59.

McDaniel went to work for Memphis Pool owner Roy Reed in 1969, shortly after the two met at the local high school, where Reed taught biology and math, and McDaniel was a student.

Reed, who divided his time between teaching and selling pool supplies, hired McDaniel in his senior year. “He had a keen mind and was a very perceptive person,” Reed said. “I could tell he was a good management-type guy. He just had a whole galaxy of talents that allowed him to make things work out no matter where he was.”

McDaniel earned a degree at Memphis State University, and left Memphis Pool in the early ’80s to seek other ventures. Shortly afterward, he took a position with package pool supplier Heldor Industries, where he eventually served as vice president of marketing.

He returned to Memphis Pool around 1990 and moved up the ranks until becoming CEO of the pool builder/ retailer, as well as its sister firm, distributor Optimus Pool Products. McDaniel also was majority owner of Optimus. A natural manager, he proved complementary with Reed, who considered himself more of a nuts-and-bolts person. “He was good with people and could really read them,” Reed said. “John could see opportunities within the company.”

In addition to his work with the pool companies, McDaniel was an elder at his church, and served on the board of directors at Memphis Union Mission, an organization ministering to the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged.

He is survived by wife Linda Thron McDaniel; daughters Melissa McDaniel Millsap and Michelle McDaniel; son Brian McDaniel, parents Calvin and Jean McDaniel, and brother Steve McDaniel. Donations may be made in John McDaniel’s memory to Memphis Union Mission.