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With a Heavy Heart, ProCo Says Goodbye (3/12/10)

Charlie Wicks, founder, owner and CEO of ProCo Sound, Inc. passed away on the morning of March 11, 2010 due to complications related to his battle with cancer.

Charlie, 65, was an icon in the audio industry.   He formed ProCo in the early 1970’s to manufacture P.A. speakers and shifted to manufacturing cables and interconnect products in 1974.  From that starting point he successfully led the company over the next four decades to become a global presence in the audio industry.  

Charlie was known affectionately throughout the audio industry by his non-traditional and self-proclaimed title of “The Captain of the Universe”.  He was a rare and unique blend of tinker, teacher, philosopher, leader and salesman. “The Captain” always challenged those around him to think-outside-of-the-box, as he did. His company, ProCo Sound, is a reflection of Charlie’s dedication to find solutions to his customers’ problems.

In recent years, Charlie’s health became an impediment to his direct involvement in the business. Debbe Stephenson, friend and President of ProCo stated, “While our hope has always been that Charlie would return healthy and able to run the company he loved so dearly and put so much of himself into, he will remain in our hearts as we continue to carry on his dream.”

While he worked tirelessly to grow and improve his business, Charlie was also a leader who cared deeply for his employees, customers and vendors.  He created and maintained a family-like environment at ProCo. He wanted to foster an environment where all could contribute.

Sammy Ash, COO of Sam Ash Music, Corp. added, “He was a very good friend of this company and family. We have had a personal and professional relationship for close to 30 years now. He had a few personal tragedies but he never wore them on his sleeve. We always had a good chuckle. For those who didn’t know, his nickname was “Captain of the Universe”. To this day I do not know how that came about but it always seemed to fit when you saw him smile, it was as wide as the Grand Canyon or as “Big as the Universe”. He will be missed.”

Charlie was a dog lover.  He was very involved in the care and well being of local abandoned animals.  He and his wife Willie formed the organization Canine Safe Harbor in 2006 where they personally provided care for dogs that have lost their families.

Most people, who knew Charlie, were acquainted with him through his business, but few knew he was also a gifted organist and performed in a musical group prior to forming ProCo.  He received a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Charlie leaves behind his wife, Willie and son, John.  He was predeceased by his son, Stacey.

At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, please make donations to Canine Safe Harbor, 8171 W. KL Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49009.  www.caninesafeharbor.com

Funeral services will be held on Sunday March 14, 2010 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at Betzlers Funeral Home 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI  269-375-2900