SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (BRAIN) – Brett Walquist, a longtime Midwest rep for J&B Importers and a former retailer, was stabbed to death by an intruder early Monday while vacationing with family in the beach town of Rincon, Puerto Rico. He was 41.
The assailant broke into the Arena y Mar Apartments through a sliding glass door in the middle of the night, The Associated Press reported, and Walquist apparently walked in on him in the kitchen and was stabbed at least three times. Walquist was on vacation with his wife, son, daughter and father, family and friends told BRAIN.
“There was a break-in. He either heard some commotion or got up to get a drink and was confronted in the kitchen. (The attacker) went through Brett to get out,” said Walquist’s brother, Brian, who now operates the 56-year-old family-owned shop, Alger Bikes in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Brett started out in the industry.
After coming up in the family business, Brett went to work as a rep at J&B in 2001, covering a territory spanning Columbus, Ohio, to Evansville, Indiana. That territory was recently expanded to additionally include West Virginia, said Ashley Richardson, general manager at J&B’s Midwest location in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Because he’d kind of grown up in the business, he was naturally suited to walking into a bike shop and selling product to them and building that relationship,” said Brian Walquist.
Richardson described Brett as a “pounding the ground” sales rep who loved working on the road and meeting different personalities in the industry, including their families.
“I’ve taken road trips with him all over his territories. We were good friends on top of him working under my direction,” Richardson said. “He approached life with a dry sense of humor. Right now if he were standing here he’d say, ‘Well, now there’s a job opening.’ ”
Scott Dunwoody, owner of retailer DG Bicycles in Indianapolis, Indiana, first met Walquist early in his repping career in 2001 at Bike Wave, the Indianapolis shop Dunwoody managed at the time. When Dunwoody later purchased the competing shop that would become DG Bicycles, “Brett was the first rep I called. He was there the next morning,” he said.
“We’d go out and have a beer and dinner every time he came through. Brett was a good friend. He didn’t have much of a filter if he knew you, so he and I would go back and forth with some pretty raunchy stuff,” Dunwoody recalled.
Reached at his shop Monday afternoon, Dunwoody was reeling from the news of his friend’s death earlier that day. “I just talked to him Friday. I had a joke for him I had to tell and I called him out of the blue, completely forgetting that he was on vacation,” he said.
In addition to his brother, Brian, Walquist is survived by his wife, Gerry; a 10-year-old son; a 13-year-old daughter; a sister, Brandi; and his father, Carl.