The commercial refrigeration industry lost a giant and a pioneer, with the passing on January 2 of William E. (Bill) Almquist, co-founder of Almcoe Refrigeration Company, Dallas, TX.

Born and raised in Dallas, Almquist attended Crozier Tech. He left school before graduation to serve as an anti-aircraft gunner on the USS Intrepid during World War II. (After 9/11, Crozier Tech bestowed an honorary GED diploma to Bill and all the students that left school to serve their country.)

He returned from the war and learned the refrigeration trade at Joe Hoppe Co. Resigning From Joe Hoppe Co. in 1960, he and lifelong friend, W.J. (Bill) Coe, founded Almcoe Refrigeration Company. It was at Almcoe that he forged his spot as one of the icons in the refrigeration industry being recognized as one of the true experts in grocery store refrigeration design.

Almcoe was founded during a landmark era for the refrigeration industry. In 1960, restaurant and supermarket businesses were expanding to meet the needs of growing, post-war communities, and Almcoe soon became a market leader. The company earned its first $1 million in sales in 1965.

By 1970, Almcoe had 20 employees, and Almquist and Coe looked forward to the challenges that awaited them. Towards the end of the decade, they realized it was time to develop a succession strategy to move the business forward. That's when his son, Bill, took over, and today the company continues to thrive as a leader in supermarket refrigeration contracting.

Almquist was active in his church, and in many local civic organizations and trade associations.