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What happens when your hero is gone?

  
  
  
  

Norman Wnuk, founder and CEO of www.AllThingsJeep.com passed away last week, from a massive, unexpected, heart attack. He was 44. He was my husband. He was the founder of our business we ran together for 7 years. He was passionate about his love of Jeeps, his love of AMC Pacers (yes, I know, hard to explain that one), his love of creating & building things, his love of learning, his love of our business, and his love of his friends and family.

I don't want this blog article to be an obituary, but I feel the need to post my thoughts and put them out there in the world. So read on if you'd like, and shut down this window if you desire.

The reason I fell in love with Norman was because he was so passionate about learning and about doing well at the things that interested him. He comes from a family of business owners and after years of working for big companies, he knew the right thing for him, professionally & emotionally, was to build his own business. I came along for the ride. And it's been a ride. We used to argue with a friend of ours who also has an internet business. Our friend didn't really have any interest in the product he sold, he just enjoyed the business aspect of things. Norman, on the other hand, has been an avid off-roader & Jeeper for 20 years. He wanted to start a business that his heart was in, something he loved and was passionate about. The business person in him saw the opportunity on-line in e-commerce, and thus All Things Jeep was born.

Like most small businesses, we have struggled over the years. Will this work? Or will it fail? We have made our share of mistakes. But we've learned from them. We've worked harder than I ever thought possible, compromising many things in our lives and giving up a lot to grow and nurture our business. We are so attached to it. It is a part of us and our customers are a part of us. It is incredibly rewarding when we hear from our customers and we've made them happy.

Norman inspired me to set a goal and work to reach it, in spite of obstacles. He taught me to reach my limit, and then go beyond it. He made me realize that a commitment to something means doing whatever it takes. And we've always agreed that our customers are the most important part of our business.

My heart is pretty much breaking as I write this, but I wanted to share with our customers and anyone else who comes across this blog, that his live, which was way too short, ended when he was feeling good about reaching his goal of creating and running a successful small business. That was a giant dream of his. And he achieved it. And it IS because of our awesome customers. He died extremely satisfied with what he had achieved. (Of course, his Pacer restoration is not complete, but I know one of the 17 other AMC Pacer fans in the world will come forward and volunteer to finish the restoration!) Norman's life wasn't a flame that went out, but I think it was a spark that will keep many other flames alive. That's what he would want. And that's what he will get. Here he is in the CJ8, ready to overcome every obstacle that gets in his way.

Norman Wnuk & his '83 Jeep Scrambler 

Norman, looking like the typical, young business owner.

Written & Sponsored by www.AllThingsJeep.com and its employees.

Comments

I am so sorry to hear about Norman... my thoughts and prayers go out to you... God Bless.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:01 AM by Drew Franzo
Jean i'm so sorry to hear of your loss I can't imagine what you are faced with. Myself and the Pirates Of Moor will continue to be your customers and supporters. God Bless 
 
Perry
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:04 AM by Perry
I am sorry for your loss, I have recently also loss someone important in my life. It is easy to see how passionate he was about everything you guys have done through the websites and the good vibe that I feel with everything that you offer. I want to extend my thoughts and prayers your way...
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:16 AM by Melvin
Jean, I am also sorry for your loss. Not only your life partner but, your business partner too. Keep your head high and keep feeding that spark until it becomes the flame it deserves to be.  
 
God Bless you and your family.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 8:50 AM by Kathie Gainer
Jean, my heart goes out to you ! My eyes welled up as I read your announcement. Although, I never met Norman, I feel like I have lost a brother.The two of you have built a business that many would be envious of. His love and compassion for Jeep shows in every aspect of your site ! I have been troubled lately with my current career choice and I am inspired by your untimely loss, to begin persuing a career doing something that I love and care about, and I am going to start today !
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 9:39 AM by Steve Townes
Jean, 
I noticed the announcement on face book a while back and immediately sent a short condolence message to you and the All Things Jeep family. I am still in shock, and our hearts go out to you and your family. He will be missed by everyone, my prayers and well wishes are with you!  
 
Jeepin' Al
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 12:09 PM by Al Handy
Jean - I am so sorry - and shocked - to hear of your loss. Everyone's loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks to you and Norman for AllThingsJeep. 
 
Thanks for sharing this and helping us to know Norman a little bit better. 
 
And I thought I was the only one who liked Pacers. 
 
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 2:58 PM by Rick
Jean, 
 
I see your lovely daughter in school and feel the sorrow that radiates from her. And yet your example of love and respect for your husband is quite a gift to give your children. It's a model of what love and marriage should be when it's done right. Too many of us fall short on that front. I hope that brings a small measure of comfort, that you call your husband "your hero".
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 4:31 PM by Heidi Champagne
Jean,  
 
 
 
My family's thoughts and prayers are with you. You have a great product for those that love Jeeps.  
 
 
 
Keep the dream alive and best wishes.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 5:49 PM by JC
Jean. 
You are in my thoughts every day. There really are no words. I love you guys! 
Your friend, Sandy
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 6:37 PM by Sandy Portnoy
I'm so sorry for your loss but the man sounds like a power house, I've no doubt his legacy will live on... 
 
Best wishes 
 
Stephen
Posted @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009 7:09 PM by Stephen Burnett
Jean, Sorry for your loss. I have never met Norm,but feel like I do thur your website and my orders that always say, "Thanks Norm". Your blog brought back alot of memories for me as my first car was amc pacer. bright red. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 12:51 PM by Kathlene Pelletier
Very sad to hear the bad news. Not too long ago my father passed away so I can feel your loss. Please accept my prayers and condolences. It was a brave thing you did by posting your blog. 
 
 
 
Aloha
Posted @ Thursday, December 03, 2009 3:45 PM by Mike McDavitt
I am so sorry for your loss. It seems like you never get enough time with someone.
Posted @ Saturday, December 05, 2009 7:56 PM by Maggie
Thanks for posting this blog about Norman. Doing things like this is defiantly good for you to do as it's an outlet for the pain you must be feeling. At least for me, reading these things makes me feel that I should really get off my ass and not take life (and everybody in it) for granted, as I do. While I didn't really know Norman, I've seen your business grow. I admired him and you for how you've made it grow. In fact if I had lived closer I would have applied for Mikes job! (Hi Mike:) ) Anyway, Keep doing what you doing, keep busy and never forget, we're all here when you need to chat... or build a Pacer. ;)  
 
Best Wishes  
 
 
 
-Scott
Posted @ Sunday, December 06, 2009 9:08 AM by Scott Daigle
Just read this to Aunt Harriet. Very nice Jean. You are an amazing woman, strong , caring , confident and supportive of those in your life. Norman and you had achieved an amazing strength to allow each other to live their lives within your marriage. Your example of achievement together as a couple is an A+ model for others to strive for in their relationship. 
 
I love you and will hope we see each other soon, to just be there for you. Love Cousin Larry
Posted @ Tuesday, December 08, 2009 11:35 AM by Larry Sherman
As sorrowful as Norman's passing is, what you had together was priceless. He was your soul mate, a precious gift in life who was taken much too soon. Your strength 
 
is admirable. You, Hannah and Rebecca are in our prayers. 
 
Love, Sharon and Tom Matthews 
 
Posted @ Tuesday, December 08, 2009 4:58 PM by Sharon Matthews
Jean, 
I don't know if you received my email last week but I do want you to know that we have been thinking of you and the girls and sending our love and prayers. It will get harder before it gets easier and it is so amazing to see all the love and support you have from family and friends, in person and on-line. We're here whenever you need us, always!
Posted @ Tuesday, December 08, 2009 7:58 PM by Nancy Strong
Best to you and yours ... I've always loved this site as the warmth comes through in all that you do! getting some of my christmas gifts here now as my thanks to Norman and the allthingsjeep family! xo
Posted @ Monday, December 14, 2009 8:53 PM by jeep me
I just stumbled across this article. I am a new owner of an old Jeep. It sounds like Norman was a heck of a guy. If he was that loved on Earth, then certainly he is in heaven (probally four wheeling). Be comforted in knowing he is in a far better place.
Posted @ Sunday, January 03, 2010 11:39 AM by Pat
i am very sorry for your loss,he built an amazing company.just keep his dream alive.you have a big jeep family that will support and be there for you and your family.good luck and god bless
Posted @ Wednesday, January 20, 2010 7:08 PM by mike bakeman
Jean, 
 
I'm sorry to hear about your loss. God bless you and your family. He is there with you in all the quiet hours when you need comfort. 
 
 
 
I was just looking out the window this morning at my CJ5 parked in the snow, and logged on to place an order, and saw the news about your husband. Even in your grief, how blessed you are to have had each other. 
 
 
 
Walter Russell
Posted @ Sunday, January 31, 2010 7:29 AM by Walt Russell
Wow, I just read about your loss in a magazine. I'm not on the internet often, but your website has been a mainstay for me since finding it. It is an inspiration that y'all have followed your dreams and continue to do so. I am so sorry for you and your children's loss, his legacy will live on with "All Things Jeep" and hope they will live their life to its fullest as your husband has. Take care and keep on Jeepn!
Posted @ Monday, February 01, 2010 5:49 AM by Shannon
Jean, I'm so sorry for your loss. . .in this big world, made bigger (or perhaps smaller) by the internet . . .I feel I know you and your family through frequent checks to the website . . . God bless you we all are with you!
Posted @ Wednesday, February 03, 2010 3:04 PM by Laurie
GO OVER IT, 
 
and GO-on.... JEEP JEEP...LOVE for you J. and Family 
 
The Jeep thing must be....;-)
Posted @ Friday, February 12, 2010 3:36 PM by GROMMEKE
Sorry to hear of the news , my thoughts are with you .
Posted @ Saturday, February 13, 2010 9:35 AM by Len
Reading your very personal blog reminded me just how passionate Norman was... God he was passonate about everything he did! I am humbled and so lucky to know him...
Posted @ Saturday, April 10, 2010 5:03 PM by Vivian
Comments have been closed for this article.