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Obituary for Donald Charles Sonandres: Founder of the ADA

Date: 10/9/12

Obituary for Donald Charles Sonandres
Born: April 15, 1935    Died: October 2, 2012
Born in Chicago, Illinois.  His father worked in the Wisconsin Dells in the summer and took the family to Miami Beach for the winter.    At 17, on a whim, he and his best friend enlisted in the Marines.  Boot Camp at Paris Island in August was the only time he ever got up at a set time in his life. 
The Marines quickly recognized his engineering ability.  He spent most of his duty back in Miami maintaining the cameras and other equipment on spy planes.  Later he saw an add from General Electric for the U. S.space program.  He was there when they blew up rockets at a foot off the ground and had big parties if they made it to three feet.  He was a launch test conductor for the payload packages/nosecone for over ten years.  
As a sideline he also got involved with providing toys for Christmas gifts for major corporations in Melbourne, Florida.  Then they began to ask for sports equipment for their teams—so began the sporting goods business.  For 13 years he operated SDS Sports as a regional team dealer.  He quickly realized that with a larger order, you got a better price.  He found Dale Buttleman in Ormand Beach, Dave Whipp in Vero Beach and  Sal Licata in Rivera Beach, Florida.  They would meet periodically and combine their orders.  This evolved into the Professional Sporting Goods Dealers Association with over 20 dealers in Florida.   He sold the sporting goods business and found five other groups around the US that were combining their orders.  
It was not easy to convince the five other groups to combine their buying power into the Athletic Dealers of America.  The first large meeting was in Orlando in 1983.  The group grew into over 100+ team dealers with the finest reputation in the industry.  
Upon retirement, Don sold the ADA to the member dealers.   He was brilliant and creative.  He could put together a complex project like the ADA catalog at an unbeatable price for his dealers. His innovations included nightly fax polls, an internal website and on line catalog. He also helped the sporting goods vendors whenever possible.  
(Further information contact Lynne Sonandres at 828-638-9200)

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