Joseph G. Fabick died at his home in Elm Grove, Wis. on July 22, 2010, at the age of 82.
Born Oct. 9, 1927, Mr. Fabick was the founder of FABCO Equipment Inc., the Caterpillar dealer for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. He served as president and chief executive officer of the company from its inception in 1982 until his retirement in 2002 when principal ownership of the business was acquired by his son Jeré C. Fabick.
Mr. Fabick was an accomplished businessman who achieved many things in his life but first and foremost, he was a kind and thoughtful person who loved his family and cared about the well being of his friends, employees and anyone he could help. He was a man of strong character who ran his business dealings by an ethical code and surrounded himself with people who shared similar values.
A native of Missouri, Mr. Fabick grew up on and around Caterpillar machines. His father was a tractor dealer in St. Louis and the company later evolved to become among the first Caterpillar dealerships in the world when the Caterpillar Tractor Company began operation in 1925. As a teenager, Mr. Fabick spent summers as a dozer and scraper operator and upon graduating from Campion Preparatory High School in Prairie du Chien, Wis., he joined the family dealership full-time.
Years later while working full-time and raising a family, Mr. Fabick attended classes at Saint Louis University and went on to earn his college degree. Mr. Fabick continued with Fabick CAT in St. Louis for 38 years before leaving his position as president of that company to pursue new opportunities for his family with a dealership of his own.
In May of 1982, Caterpillar Inc. awarded him the Cat dealer territory for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, beginning a new chapter in his illustrious life.
Mr. Fabick’s long and extraordinary history in the Caterpillar equipment business provided him with opportunities to travel the world and be a part of some of this country’s most important achievements such as our interstate highway system and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. He was an engaging storyteller who loved to share his experiences and provide new perspectives on construction projects that have impacted the lives of many.
In addition to his role as a business leader, Mr. Fabick was an active pilot since 1946. He had a highly respected background in aviation including management of the Fabick Companies’ corporate aircraft subsidiary in the late 1940s. Mr. Fabick flew many different types of aircraft and, in 1948, at the age of 21, was identified as the youngest licensed helicopter pilot in the world.
Over the years he took an interest in countless humanitarian and community causes and was recognized with many awards. Mr. Fabick always considered one of his greatest accomplishments to be the key role he played in establishment of Wings of Hope in 1962. Along with a group of three other St. Louis businessmen, Mr. Fabick created this non-profit organization to bring life-saving air transportation to isolated parts of the world. He went on to serve as the foundation’s president for 27 years. Wings of Hope currently helps connect impoverished populations with health care in 41 countries.
Mr. Fabick married his wife Gloria in 1949 and together they raised three daughters and five sons. After 47 years of marriage, Gloria died in 1996.
A “Life Celebration” for Joe will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at the Westmoor Country Club, 400 South Moorland Road, Brookfield, Wis., 53005. Customers, co-workers, associates and friends are invited to stop by and honor Joe between 4 and 8 p.m.
Expressions of sympathy in Joseph Fabick’s memory may be made to Wings of Hope, Inc. (www.wings-of-hope.org) 18370 Wings of Hope Blvd.
Chesterfield, MO 63005