John Romano
John Romano

John Romano, for decades one of the most visible industry figureheads in the northeast and nationwide, has passed away. He was 73.

Romano died Wednesday, two weeks after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, according to a social media post from his son, Robert Romano.

The elder Romano was part of a core group of Northeastern pool/spa professionals who formed the face of the region and its trade group, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association. He served on the board of NESPA from 1987 until 2018, taking on just about every title and serving as president in 1995. At the time of his death, he was still on the board of his local chapter, the Connecticut Spa and Pool Association.

“John was a larger-than-life advocate for the pool industry,” said NESPA Executive Director Dominick Mondi. “He was one of those individuals who never stopped. Whatever the next meeting or committee was, he was one of the first to put up his hand. He always served as inspiration for other people to get involved and lead.”

Romano served prolifically on a national level, as well. He spent years on the Builders Council for the various iterations of the national industry association, now known as the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. He was on the Builders Council at the time it first developed its Certified Pool Builder program, helping to write the manual on which it is based.

He served on the national association’s board as a representative for the Northeast for several years, and was chairman of the organization (then called the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals) in 1998.

APSP recognized Romano as Pool Builder of the Year in 2008, making him the second person to receive that honor, after his good friend and collaborator Al Rizzo.

“He didn’t work in the industry -- the industry was part of who he was,” Mondi said.

Romano sold his company, All American Custom Pools and Spas, about five years ago. He had founded it in 1977.

A full tribute to Romano and his life will be forthcoming.