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Losses in the Travel Agent Family 2013

December 12, 2013

In 2013 we mourned the passing of major figures in the travel industry. These people inspired their peers with their leadership and dedication, and in many cases left behind charitable legacies that will help others after they are gone. Here we remember the colleagues who are no longer with us. 

If anyone in the travel community would like us to add someone to this list, please reach out at [email protected]. Additionally, please feel free to share any thoughts or memories about the departed in the comments section below. 

mitch appelmanMitch Appelman

Mitch Appelman, a respected thirty year veteran of Liberty Travel, Ramsey, NJ, passed away in late December 2012 at age 54 while out of the country, traveling on business. 

His career with Liberty Travel spanned more than three decades. He started as a consultant and worked his way up to team leader, area leader and ultimately to retail leader of Liberty Travel for the past two years.  

“Mitch’s hard work, dedication and passion for the company he loved were evident to each and every person who worked with and for him,” said Emma Jupp, president of Liberty Travel. “His infectious laugh and sense of humor are two of his signature calling cards that will certainly be missed here.”

Aside from the Liberty Travel family that grieves his loss, he leaves behind his wife Caroline and two children, Alexa and Stefan.

bill cancellareWilliam 'Bill' Cancellare

William 'Bill’ Cancellare, Sr., the iconic travel industry photographer, died May 12, 2013, at age 76 after complications from a heart attack.

Cancellare started News Events Photo Service, in industry news and events photography, following in his father’s footsteps and subsequently handed down the company to his son, Bill Cancellare, Jr. who continues in the business today. 

He is survived by his son, Bill Cancellare, Jr., his daughter Denise Cancellare, his granddaughter Deanna and a huge family of cousins, nephews and friends around the world.




lauri wallis clineLauri Wallis Cline

Lauri Wallis Cline, an advisor at Worldview-Travel, Santa Ana, passed away April 12, 2013. She is survived by her parents, Wayne and Judy Wallis, and her brother Scott Wallis and his family. 

"Lauri was in the travel industry, helping others make memories of a lifetime," said her obituary on





ralph cooper

Ralph Cooper

Ralph Cooper, general manager at Bon Voyage and a member of the Signature Board of Directors, passed away in his sleep on August 22, 2013. 

"He loved this business and was a great supporter of Signature," said Signature CEO Alex Sharpe. "Enjoy every day. We are fortunate to work in an industry with wonderful people and doing something we love."

Cooper is survived by his wife Norma and two children.



jeff duncanJeff Duncan

Signature Travel Network member Jeff Duncan passed away on May 18, 2013, from a heart attack at the age of 49. He was the owner of Holiday Cruises and Tours of Newtown, PA. 

"Jeff was a great friend to many with a dry sense of humor," said Signature CEO Alex Sharpe. "Many will remember him for one of the many practical jokes he orchestrated over the years. He had a brilliant mind for business and understood the travel industry like few others - from supplier to distribution system to clients. He always had time to share his knowledge with others, never failing to make time in his busy schedule to help others and share his wisdom."

"Jeff was also a great husband and father," Sharpe said. "He loved traveling with his wife, Sharon, and taking his teenagers, Brook and Seth, around the world to experience different cultures. He was generous in every way and will be deeply missed."

mark eliasonMark Eliason

Mark Eliason passed away on September 12, 2013. He was the CEO and President of USTravel and a member of Signature Travel Network. 

With more than 25 years of travel management experience, Mark Eliason operated USTravel since its inception, overseeing the executive management of all USTravel companies including: Explore Tours, Visions Meetings & Events and Air Fulfillment Services.

USTravel was ranked number 14 as a leading independent travel management company by Business Travel News and is recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of America's fastest growing privately owned enterprises.

"Mark was recognized nationally as an authority in the travel industry, and served on numerous industry and business organization boards as well as being a long time member of Signature Travel Network," said Signature CEO Alex Sharpe. "He will be deeply missed."

larry fishkinLarry Fishkin

Larry Fishkin passed away September 25, 2013, at the age of 65. He was the owner and founder of Travel Themes & Dreams, a member based in Hallandale Beach, Florida. During his career he lectured for Cruise Lines International Association's travel industry Cruise-a-thons and served on the advisory boards for Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line and others. He was also active in consumer travel media, and broadcast a regular radio travel segment on KGO, the largest AM station in Northern California, under the broadcasting moniker Leisure Larry. 

Fishkin is survived by his wife, Fern, and children, Jason and Seth.

William Fitzgerald with his daughter, Mollie Fitzgerald
William Fitzgerald with his daughter, Mollie Fitzgerald

William Fitzgerald

William Fitzgerald was the founder of Frontiers International Travel, a member of Virtuoso. He passed away on April 7, 2013. 

"He was a very good listener and he was a creative and lateral thinker," his daughter, Mollie Fitzgerald, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for a memorial piece. "He was good at problem solving and finding fair solutions to challenging situations. He was very diplomatic."

Fitzgerald is survived by his wife, children, sister Sandra Westfall and a granddaughter. The family requested donations to the Cancer Caring Center, Smile Train and Atlantic Salmon Federation

jose goldbergerJosé Goldberger

José Goldberger of Seavents World Travel, a member of Virtuoso, passed away July 9, 2013.  

"José was an inspiration to his family and friends," said his obituary in the Jewish Herald-Voice. "He was always there to lend a friendly ear and a good hug. He will be sorely missed."

Goldberger is survived by his wife, Rosita, their children, Cindy, Arieh and Steven, his daughters-in-law, Irit and Julie, his four grandchildren, and his sister Cathy and her husband Edmond Bensimon. 

Donations may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

mary alice rosa gonsalvesMary Alice Rosa Gonsalves

Mary Alice Rosa Gonsalves passed away on July 25, 2013. She was the founder of Balboa Travel, a member of Virtuoso. 

Born in San Diego to immigrant parents from the Island of Pico in the Portuguese Azores, Gonsalves was a major figure in the local Portuguese community. She was a founder of the Alicança Açoreana of San Diego and co-president of the annual Festa do Espirito Santo and the Festa Madeirense do Santo Amaro. She also supported the Monarch School for homeless children and helped in the creation of a new school on Newton Avenue. 

Gonsalves is survived by her brother and sister-in-law, John and marly da Rosa, her brother-in-law and his wife, John and Virginia Gonsalves and by many nieces and nephews. 

Donations may be made "In Memory of Mary Alice Gonsalves" to: 

Monarch School for homeless children, 1625 Newton Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113
Saint Agnes Catholic Church, 1140 Evergreen St., San Diego, CA 92106
United Portuguese SES Inc., 2818 Avenida de Portugal, San Diego, CA 92106 

alex harrisAlex Harris

Tourism pioneer Alex Harris passed away in early February at the age of 91. He was the founder and chairman emeritus at General Tours World Traveler. 

Harris was a brilliant pioneer of the modern American tourism industry, founding General Tours in 1947. In 1954, after requesting special permission from the U.S. State Department and Eisenhower Administration, he was granted the authority to operate the first scheduled tours to the Soviet Union for American travelers. 

He expanded General Tours into a worldwide travel company and continued to innovate, helping to develop the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) into a preeminent trade and marketing association.

Harris was inducted into the ASTA Hall of Fame in 1992 and received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2005. Over the decades, he received widespread recognition from his peers for his vision and success and was the recipient of numerous other awards. 

richard hertzogRichard "Rick" Hertzog

Richard "Rick" Hertzog, a Travel Leaders Associate of Lynnwood, Washington, passed away February 23, 2013. 

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Rick’s wife Karen and their family on their enormous loss," said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. "Rick was certainly one of the most gracious and decent Associates I’ve had the honor of knowing. We first met 20 years ago when he became a Travel Agents International (TAI) franchisee, and Rick was enthusiastically engaged in everything from our Franchise Advisory Board to our brand transitions – first to Carlson Wagonlit Travel and then to Travel Leaders."

Hertzog had been honored by Travel Leaders through their Agency of Excellence Awards, as well by suppliers likeHolland America Line, Princess, Uniworld and Viking River Cruises.

Lucille Hirleman

Lucille Hirleman of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, NJ, a member of Ensemble Travel, passed away August 20, 2013. She had been a member of the consortia since 1998. 

Ensemble said Hirleman was "a strong advocate for travel agents throughout her career. She was frequently quoted in the consumer and trade press on a variety of agency issues. Lucy was also quite active in ASTA and was the current president of the New Jersey chapter.”

Tommie Jones

Tommie Jones passed away June 5, 2013, of a blood clot. He was leisure manager for Globetrotter Travel in Olney, MD, a member of Ensemble Travel. 

raymond peter kaneRaymond Peter Kane

Raymond Peter Kane was the CEO of Pisa Brothers Travel Service, a member of Virtuoso. He retired in 2003 and passed away on June 10, 2013. 

Kane served as a member of the Merchant Marine in WWII and as an Army medic in the Korean War. After the war, he sailed aboard the S.S. United States and the S.S. America. 

He is survived by his son, Scott C. Kane, and two grandsons, Dylan S. Kane and Christian A. Kane. 

Donations in his memory should go to the Wounded Warrior Project



julianne kleinJulianne Klein

Julianne Klein, a member of Tzell Travel Group, passed away April 25, 2013. She was a resident of Brookline, Massachusets. 

“Julie was a force of nature. She possessed the energy and creative drive of several people, and was the embodiment of the expression, 'multi- tasked.' When an idea came to her, no sooner was it conceived, than it was executed. She had a great contempt for procrastination, and did not know how to indulge in it. Julie was also a stickler for detail; she believed that no plan was complete unless perfectly seamless, from beginning to end,” said her husband, Andrew, in a tribute to her on

roland largayRoland Largay

Roland Largay, founder, co-owner and CEO of Waterbury, CT-based Largay Travel, passed away May 13, 2013. He was one of the founding members of Virtuoso Travel, a Chairman Emeritus of the Virtuoso Member Advisory Board and he was named one of Travel Agent's Leaders in Luxury in 2008. 

Largay attributed his quick success to countless family business discussions around the dinner table when he was growing up, to his business degree and to his passion for travel and love of people. “To be successful selling luxury travel, you have to feel comfortable selling the product,” said Largay. “You can’t feel intimidated. You need to know the ships inside out.” He noted that his best business came from referrals.

Largay was always a traveler. Upon graduating from college, he took a three-month deluxe American Express trip through Europe. “I’ve lost count of the number of cruises—well over a hundred,” he said. Largay has served on the Royal Viking Advisory Board, as well as being a member of the Cunard Inner Circle, the Abercrombie & Kent Connoisseurs Club and the Crystal Cruise Platinum Club.

mauricio leytonMauricio Leyton

Mauricio Leyton, a colleague of the Virtuoso network and a travel industry veteran, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, December 1, 2013. He was 52 years old. He was hospitalized on Wednesday with a sudden illness, and suffered a heart attack during the night. He was traveling in Chile at the time and was surrounded by his family.

"Mauricio’s travel career spanned more than 25 years, with more than 15 of those years spent with Virtuoso," said a statement from Virtuoso. "During his tenure, Mauricio was responsible for building Virtuoso’s travel agency membership and operations throughout Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, opening up Virtuoso’s first markets outside of North America. He later served as vice president of Virtuoso’s Global Member Partnerships, before moving on to oversee the acquisition and development of key relationships with tourism boards all over the world." 
In addition to curating luxury travel experiences, Mauricio was an accomplished actor with films, plays, commercials, and TV appearances to his credit.      
“I mourn my loss and that of so many who Mauricio touched with his amazing soul. His love enriched the lives of everyone lucky enough to have come across his path and know him. His kindness, creativity and compassion will be with us forever,” said Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, when advising members of Mauricio's passing.

At International Luxury Travel Mart in Cannes, a candlelight vigil was held on the shore of the Mediterranean in Leyton's honor by his very many friends, many of whom had commented on Facebook about how devastated they were by his sudden passing.

meredith mcnaugherMeredith McNaugher

Meredith McNaugher was an advisor at Frontiers International Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She passed away February 11, 2013. 

She is survived by her daughter Jessica Miller, her grandchildren London, Alexis and Kennedy, parents John and Eleanor McNaugher and sisters Mindy McNaugher, Meg Roach and Marcie Wright, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and relatives. 

Contributions can be made to Grace Community Church, 9160 Marshall Rd., Cranberry Twp., PA 16066.



robert millerRobert “Bob” Miller

Award-winning travel writer, journalist and marketing professional, Robert “Bob” Finch Miller, died suddenly of a heart attack on January 28, 2013. He was 68. The author of several books, Bob was Editorial Director at M. Silver Associates for the past 22 years where he combined his background in journalism with a career in public relations and marketing to create and supervise agency-wide client editorial programs.

After graduating from Amherst College in 1966, Bob began his career as a manager of trade media relations for the American Society of Travel Agents. He later reported on the travel industry, writing travel, lifestyle, “how-to” and op-ed pieces for consumer publications including Travel + Leisure, Christian Science Monitor and numerous newspapers across the country. He was a contributing editor for Washingtonian magazine, ASTA Agency Management and Cruise Views and produced advertorials for The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. 

“Bob was a true gentleman and scholar – a talented writer, creative thinker, philosopher and a cherished member of the M. Silver family,” said Morris Silver, CEO. “He relished the world of travel and loved creating colorful and compelling copy that brought our clients to life in exciting ways. Bob was generous in spirit and we will miss him tremendously.” 

Bob, of Worthington, Massachusetts, is survived by his wife, Carol, his three children, Benjamin, Emma Rose, and Timmy, and three grandchildren, Megan, Jack, and Lindsay.

Michelle Morgan


A video tribute to Michelle Morgan from Signature's recent Owners' Meeting. // Video by Signature Travel Network

Michelle Morgan, president of Signature Travel Network, passed away the morning of September 17, 2013, while recovering from a bone marrow transplant. 

Morgan, who had battled breast cancer since 2009, had been profiled several times by our publications. She had been interviewed for a cover story in Luxury Travel Advisor, and she was the cover profile of Travel Agent magazine's annual Pink Issue in 2011.

“Nothing prepares you to hear the words, ‘You have breast cancer,’ ” she told Travel Agent back in an interview for that story. “I made a decision that I would not, under any circumstances, let this disease define me, or disrupt my real life. Everyone deals with these medical challenges differently. I’m not saying my approach is best or better than how others handle their diagnosis…I was determined to live my life.” 

Morgan was the godmother of the Celebrity Silhouette and an inductee into the Cruise Line International Association's Cruise Industry Hall of Fame. Over her 20 years leading Signature, she grew the California co-op from $30 million in agency sales to over $5 billion. She is survived by her two daughters, Alisa and Deirdre and her four grandchildren, Edward, Jack, Hana and Bing. 

In her honor, the Morgan family set up The Michelle Morgan Memorial Fund. The fund is part of Renaissance Charitable Foundation, a non-profit 501-3c that supports charitable organizations aimed at leukemia and other cancers, as well as awareness, scientific research, treatment, health care professional education, patient care and caregiver support. The Fund also supports community-based organizations for blood and blood product donations.

Donations may be mailed to:
The Michelle Morgan Memorial Fund
c/o California Financial Partners, Inc.
505 N. Brand Blvd. Suite 1470
Glendale, CA  91203

holly hahn nobleHolly Hahn Noble

Holly Hahn Noble passed away on February 5, 2013. She was an advisor at Andavo Travel of Marin, a member of Virtuoso. 

Noble got into travel while doing graduate work at Oxford University, when she led college tours in Europe and traveled Britain to collect ballads for the Library of Congress. She was also active in children's theater and improv acting, and worked as a sitcom writer for shows like "The Great Glidersleeve" in New York. 

Donations may be made to the Children's Theater Association of San Francisco

margret propperMargret Propper

Margret Propper was an advisor at Brownell Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She passed away April 15, 2013. 

Propper became a travel agent in 1973. She was named the Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast specialist for Alaska, river cruises and small ship cruises for 11 years. She traveled to Alaska 49 times and was named the Godmother to the entire Un-Cruise Adventures fleet, christening the Safari Endeavour

Donations can be sent to the Leukemia Society

maurice rondeauMaurice “Moe” Rondeau

Maurice "Moe" Rondeau, a Travel Leaders Associate of Lincoln, Rhode Island, passed away due to cancer August 10, 2013. 

Moe was survived by his wife Jeannine, his mother Gertrude, his daughter Jocelyn Champagne and her husband Roger, his son Marc and his wife Kimberley, and his son Daniel and his wife Christine, along with seven grandchildren.

"I certainly want to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the entire Rondeau Family on their loss," said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. "Moe owned and operated his agency since 1986. His travel agency has been a Rondeau Family operation ever since. I had the opportunity to get to know Moe ten years ago in June when his agency, operating as Travel Advisors International, first joined our network. We will miss him very much."

jacques rubenstein

Jacques Rubinstein

Jacques Rubinstein passed away on May 22, 2013. He was the owner of Viajes Excelsior - Mexico D.F., a member of Virtuoso.

leo trettinLeo Trettin

Travel Leaders Associate Leo Trettin lost his battle with cancer on December 22, 2012. He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Teri and their son, Alex, who now runs the day-to-day operations of their business. 

"There are few Travel Leaders who have distinguished themselves – both on a personal and on a professional level – quite the way that Leo and Teri have," said Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. "They have each personified what it means to be a 'class act.' Their friendly and highly professional way of doing business helped them grow into one of the largest agencies in the Seattle-Tacoma area, serving customers with exceptional care through multiple locations. Their passion for travel forged a strong legacy that would forever be instilled in Alex."
"Given their love of travel and doing business right, it’s no wonder that after first joining our network a quarter century ago – when we were Ask Mr. Foster – they have routinely been honored with our annual Awards of Excellence," Block said. "But their extraordinary business acumen also earned them our Associate of the Year recognition in 2000, and our highest honor – the Golden Legacy – for their lifetime achievement in travel in 2005."

lois tucciLois Tucci

Lois Tucci, owner of AirCruise & Tours in Gig Harbor, WA, a member of Ensemble Travel, passed away on April 13, 2013. 

Her obituary on said, “She was a vibrant and loving person full of life and always looking for her next adventure. No grass grew under her feet. Her long business career started with being a flight attendant with TWA, where she was able to travel the country…. In her later years, Lois opened a travel agency with her daughter Melissa. Traveling was one of Lois’ favorite things to do. She loved to organize cruises with family and friends. Lois and her husband, Jimmy, would be the gracious hosts. Those trips are not to be forgotten as they made sure a fun time was had by all.”

michael wagner

Michael Allan Wagner 

Michael Allan Wagner passed away on March 9, 2013. He was an advisor at Thunderbird Travel, a member of Virtuoso. 

Michelle Yvonne White

Michelle Yvonne White was born on September 3, 10951 to the late Vandelia and Benjamin White Jr. in Harlem, New York. After graduating from Cathedral High School she began her career in the travel industry and worked for TWA and Air Canada for many years. At the time of her passing she was working for Tzell Travel as a travel agent where she had worked for over a decade and was highly respected as an utmost professional in the travel industry. 

During her life Michelle enjoyed traveling to and experiencing different cultures and people and traditions, such as Bali, Cairo and other parts of the world. 

Michelle was a Harlem resident all of her life and had lived at her current residence on Manhattan Avenue for almost 21 years. She is preceded in death by both of her parents. She leaves behind in mourning two sisters, Barbara White of College Park, GA and Marie Elder of East Point, GA; two nephews, Gregory White, Jr. of Palmdale, CA and Michael White of East Point, GA; one great-nephew, Kyre' Brown White of Hartsville, SC; her two best friends, David Thornton of Atlanta, GA and Carol Reid of New York, NY; and a host of relatives, friends and neighbors that will truly miss her presence. 

mather whiteheadMather Whitehead

Mather Whitehead passed away on December 31, 2012. Whitehead was a Travel Leaders Associate of High Point, North Carolina. 

"Our hearts and condolences go out to his dear wife Dorothy (Dot) to whom he was married for 49 years and with whom he ran his Travel Leaders location, along with their daughter Pam Whitehead Karboski," said Travel Leaders Franchise Group President Roger Block. "Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing Mather recognized him as a truly special individual and enjoyed working with him. Opening a new agency in High Point, Mather and Dot first joined our network in 1999 – as Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates – and were one of the last to come in under our start-up program for new individuals to the business. This new adventure in life came about after Mather retired from his role as Director of Engineering for Cone Mills. Mather took responsibility for the agency’s accounting and marketing. As an active supporter of Friends of Good News Missions, Mather and Dot led annual trips to Brazil."

Whitehead was passionate about travel and golf, and served as an ordained deacon at Oak View Baptist Church. He was also a Fellow of Jamestown Rotary and a member and former president of the American Textile Managerial Engineers Society (ATMES). 

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