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The theme of the upcoming 2024 FGIA Annual Conference, to be held February 19-22 in Amelia Island, is a special one. Throughout the event, we will be paying tribute to the one and only Rich Walker, the former President and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and an industry figure of momentous proportions who passed away earlier this year. That’s why, throughout the conference, you will see signs of the theme, “Celebrating Rich Walker: A Legacy of Leadership and Laughter.”

The tables at the conference’s Annual Awards reception will all be named after one of Rich’s most memorable attributes or favorite things. Food selections will feature some of his favorites as well, such a Mexican and Italian food and chocolate. We will pay homage to his signature mustache as well as his love of golf and Blue Man Group, a show he saw more times than I could count on all my fingers and my toes. FGIA has also been working for the last few months to gather tributes to Rich from members and former members who knew him best. This will culminate in a video tribute to Rich, premiering during Opening General Session, but below is a preview of some of the kind words people have submitted about him and his leadership skills.

“Though Rich was my boss, I considered him a great friend. Rich hired me and allowed me to finish the last nine years of my 40-year fenestration career with AAMA. I'm forever grateful to him for that opportunity. The industry has lost a good one and I, like many others, will never forget him.”

-Ken Brenden, former AAMA Technical Services Director

“I was saddened to learn of Rich's passing. One New Year's Eve, when I was working at Simonton, I was working late. I called Rich's office to leave him a voicemail and was truly amazed when he picked up. I asked him what he was still doing in the office on New Year’s Eve and he said something like, ‘Well, I was going to leave but then I thought if I wait just a little while longer, maybe Chuck will call.’ We both burst out laughing. He had a great sense of humor and impeccable ability to keep a straight face. Rest easy, Rich Walker. My thoughts and prayers are with Diane and your family.”

-Chuck Anderson, PE, Engineer, Buildings and Grounds, West Virginia Division of Highways

“I met Rich many years ago when he was representing the SPI Vinyl Window group, and I was representing the AAMA Vinyl Group. The meeting of these two opposing groups resulted in an everlasting friendship between Rich and me, culminating in the current material neutral national window and door standard. His position in the window and door industry as a diplomatic leader and uniter of the once-splintered industry is manifested in today’s all-inclusive standards. We lost a great individual, leader and dear friend who will be forever remembered.”

-Sigi Valentin, retired

“My memories of Rich are very happy ones that no one else can share. As much as they are in the past, they are just as important to me today; to support me through tough times. I thank him for his friendship, support and for being a very happy part of Wendy’s and my life.”

-Tom Scheg, retired

We look forward to sharing additional memories and stories with you at the upcoming conference. Register now for the in-person experience or for virtual access to the 2024 FGIA Annual Conference!