Wheaton restaurant manager remembered as 'larger-than-life personality'
Restaurant manager from Geneva recalled for his philanthropic efforts
Social media tributes are pouring in for a restaurant manager from Geneva who was known for his love of helping others.
Jason Sandquist, 44, the general manager of Ivy Restaurant in Wheaton, died of a heart attack on Feb. 8.
"He was a larger-than-life personality," said Kerri Lee-Young, Ivy's freelance director of marketing and social media.
Lee-Young, who knew Sandquist for more than two decades, said others are paying tribute to her friend on Facebook and Instagram.
"Because of COVID, we're unsure of when we're actually going to be able to have a celebration of life for him," Lee-Young said. "If you scroll through those comments, you can see how important he was."
Sandquist had worked at Ivy since it opened in March 2009. The Geneva resident also was active in local business organizations.
He won the Downtown Wheaton Association's Volunteer of the Year award in 2014.
Sandquist's philanthropic efforts dovetailed with his hobby of being a self-professed "sneakerhead" -- someone who collects custom sneakers. Sandquist co-founded the Naperville-based charity Sneaker Heartz with Cameron DeHaven, a former firefighter who now works in the emergency department at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva
"(Sandquist) suggested a nonprofit where we got shoes to people that needed them and threw fundraisers and parties to get help further the cause," DeHaven said in a Facebook post. "He told me all I had to do was be the face of it and he would take care of setting everything up."
DeHaven estimates that Sneaker Heartz has provided shoes to roughly 11,000 people.
"(Sandquist) loved to give and he would do anything for anyone, which is why this is so tragic," said Sandquist's aunt, Lucy McKinley of St. Charles. "Everyone will miss his laughter. He was just a wonderful human."
In his obituary, Sandquist's family describes him as someone who "enjoyed show tunes, Barbara Streisand and singing like no one was listening."
Sandquist and Lee-Young danced together in the Act I party scene of "The Nutcracker" for a few seasons with the Geneva-based State Street Dance Studio.
"It's a massive loss, not just to Ivy, but to the whole community," Lee-Young said. "He was just such a beautiful person who always wanted to bring joy into everybody's life."
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations or a new, used, or well-loved pair of shoes may be donated to Sneaker Heartz via sneakerheartz.com.