Just before he passed away, Bob Quig said he wished he could get out of the hospital bed so he could sit on the porch at his home in Pickerel, Wis. and watch the golfers.
Quig, the founder and longtime proprietor of Quig's Orchard, who died June 1 at age 89, had moved north eight years ago after selling his iconic business on Route 83 in Mundelein. But on Sunday, under a big tent overlooking the Stonewall Orchard Golf Club near Wauconda, about 100 family, friends, former employees and well wishers gathered for a final tribute overlooking the golf course's 9th and 18th holes.
Contact information ( * required )
"He can watch the golfers go by one more time. It's fitting," said his son, Alan, who runs Quig's Maplewood Golf Course in Pickerel, where his father lived.
Stonewall Orchard was chosen because it's run by the Sargent family, who used to sell eggs to the Quigs in the early days.
"It's a business relationship that grew into a friendship," said owner Andy Sargent.
Quig's Orchard began as a roadside fruit stand in 1947 expanded over the next 58 years to include a restaurant, bakery, country store, garden center and other attractions visited by generations of area residents and students on field trips. Once, astonished employees counted 47 school buses in the parking lot.
"Everybody says the memories are amazing," said Quig's other son, Robert. Both sons and their sister, Pam, grew up with the orchard as a backyard and were involved in the operation.
This quintessential family business had become so ingrained locally that a last goodbye was planned for folks who had come to know Quig over the years.
"It was wonderful," said Mundelein resident Cheryl Roels, who worked at the restaurant for about nine years. "They made us feel like we were family. Mr. Quig was like a dad to us."
Besides the fresh cider and doughnuts, visitors remember the down-to-earth founder for his knack of making conversation and amazing memory for names and details.
"Bob put his heart and soul into his customers and friends. That's what meant so much to him," said Mundelein resident Ken Coslet.
He also was known for his storytelling prowess about growing up in the Depression, serving in World War II, starting the orchard and meeting his wife, Marion, who had stopped by the fruit stand to buy apples.
"My father was someone who loved to be surrounded by people," Alan Quig told the guests, his voice cracking with emotion. "As the family grew, the business did, too. He loved his customers and they loved him right back."
Even the competition was friendly, said Rick Breeden, former owner of Wauconda Orchards, which closed in 2001.
"We were friends and we just happened to be competitors," he said.
But the orchard business in Lake County has thinned considerably.
Quig's was sold for a development that never happened. The old building's still standing, a reminder of what once was a sore spot for the family.
Quig's daughter, Pam, said she wasn't surprised by the response for her father's memorial.
"Not at all. A lot of people knew him and loved him," she said. "He could make friends with anybody. Talk with him for two minutes, and he was your friend."