Randy Verougstraete Tribute

My Tribute to

Randy Verougstraete

Cartoonist, husband, father, and friend…

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September 26, 1953 to September 7, 1999

Although Randy and I were not close friends per se, we were very close in the way we worked together for about twelve years developing the TileWise cartoon concepts and ideas.

With intellect and humor, Randy and I put our souls into combining education and humor.  The journey went from far-fetched to intellectual to ultimately perpetuating education, art and humor when we kept on wondering where the next idea would come from.  Randy was simply brilliant at transforming normal day to day situations into a visual humorous thought with meaning.

Randy was born September 26, 1953, in Detroit Michigan.  He always loved to draw.  He went to a Catholic School and the nuns were always telling him he should get serious about his academics and to quit “fooling around” drawing.  Randy always wished he could go back and show them what he hand finally accomplished.  Randy took classes in technical drawing, drafting, etc.  He worked as a graphic artist at a community college in San Diego (where he met his precious wife Suzanne), then as a documentation manager at a couple of medical instrument firms (Ivac and Sutter Biomedical).  When his precious son Rudie was born Suzanne quit work to stay at home and that’s when Randy started drawing “for profit.”  Suzanne would make calls during the day to drum up business and Randy would come home from work and at night work at a little tiny drawing table that was in the corner of their bedroom.  Randy did this for about 5 or 6 years.  Getting laid off from Sutter was a blessing in disguise.

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Randy did advertising, editorial, children’s books and children’s workbooks.  He did work for Farmer’s Almanac, Forbes Magazine (cover), Guide Magazine (Christian Magazine), Newspaper Syndicates, Highlights for Children (Scholastic) Review and Herald Houghton, Mufflin, Silver, Burdett & Ginn, Harcourt, Brace, Joy Berry-Responsible Kids Series, Goss, Keller Martinez, Chapman Warwick, a recycling program for Los Angeles Schools, Game Wright Baseball Game, Modern Curriculum Press, Scott Foresman, he illustrated a series of books entitled The One and Only Common Sense (cents) Series by Neale S. Godfrey, and there was so much more that Randy did that isn’t listed….

Randy loved to draw and he loved to make people happy with his art.  To Randy it was such a blessing from God that he was able to make a living doing something he loved.  And to make it even better, he was able to do it from home which meant he could spend extra time with his precious kids Rudie and Remie.  Randy was there when they left for school and he was there when they got home.  Sometimes Randy would take the boys out to breakfast before school, and a lot of times the boys would sit on the floor in his office and do their homework while Randy drew.  Randy was a dedicated father, and the kids loved him dearly and felt blessed to have him.

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Randy’s precious family: wife Suzanne, and sons Rudie and Remie Verougstraete

When I found out Randy was sick in August of 1999, I thought a lot about Randy and how much I enjoyed and respected our work together over the past 12 years.  I thought about Suzanne, Rudie and Remie and how much they mean to each other.  The following is an email I wrote to Randy which sums up my feelings and admiration for Randy.

“8/25/1999

Hey Randy!

Of course it was a shock to hear that you are suffering from cancer.  I’ve had a few relatives and friends affected by this disease, so I know how difficult it must be to cope with it and at the same time try to maintain stability for your family.

You know that I’m here for you and your family in any way that I can.  Please let me know if I can do anything to help in any way!

I haven’t really had a lot of close friends in my adult life, but I consider you a very special friend, even though we haven’t spent much personal time together.  The many years of collaborating with you on the TileWise Cartoons bring fond memories of our brainstorming, and sharing of jokes and humor.  It was always stimulating and enjoyable to intellectually integrate the humor and the education into our conversations and ultimately into cartoons to be shared with the Ceramic Tile Industry.

We can be proud to share the legacy of the TileWise Cartoons.  The legacy of YOUR art and humor will continue on in the Ceramic Tile and Stone Industry forever.  It has already had a profound influence on many lives.  I regularly hear comments and see cartoons posted on walls of ceramic tile distributors, installers, and manufacturers during my travels not only in the USA, but around the world!  The cartoons and their humor continues to gain attention and convey the very important messages to the industry and their consumers at every level; including your basic home owners.  These messages help perpetuate the quality and satisfaction in our industry, by informing quality standards and techniques, and minimizing false expectations.

Words are so limiting in expressing feelings.  I want to convey to you my feelings and encouragement!  Life is so resilient, yet can be delicate.  Every moment is precious, particularly the time spent with your love ones!  I believe that the challenges of life can be overcome through happiness, humor, and positive thinking.  Of course each one is the precursor of the other which perpetuates continued growth.  Learning is a key element to growth and happiness, and I have always seen you embrace learning with enthusiasm!  So I know you know how to learn and be happy, and I encourage you to try and focus on learning as much as you can and looking for the positive point of view in your endeavors!

God Bless and Best Wishes,

Donato Pompo your buddy “Don”!”

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Art done by Randy many years ago for a Christmas Tree farm ad.  It was used in 2000 as the Verougstraete family Christmas Card in memory of Randy.

One of the funniest moments I shared with Randy was years ago when I was working for Southwestern Ceramics.  I had a limited budget for buying customer Christmas gifts and wanted something memorable, but I wanted to have more than less to give out.  So I had a local ceramic artist make ceramic hand molded glazed coffee mugs with the Southwestern logo and name on it.  The artist said that the only way she could get them done in time is if she didn’t have to put handles on the mug; that would give me a much better price that would allow me to have more mugs to give out.  So I did.

I saved one mug for Randy.  When I gave it to him, he thought it was so bizarre and funny that there wasn’t a handle on it.  So when he asked me why, I told him that “Confucius say if cup too hot to hold, then it must be too hot to drink from.”  I kiddingly tried to convince him I did it to keep it safe and to make it a good hand warmer.  For years afterwards Randy would always start laughing and say “do you remember when you gave me that coffee cup with no handles….ha..ha..ha…

Randy will forever be in my thoughts…..

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