Bob and Joan Ullman: A Personal Goodbye

    It has been both my privilege, and good fortune to have been professional, and personal friends with the partners that make up the industry law firm of Ullman, Shapiro, and Ullman for more than 20 years.  Bob, Steve and Marc have helped me (among many others) in more ways that I can count over the years.  When I lost my father in 2009, they were there as friends to support me, and my family through that difficult time.

    It pains me greatly to now have to write at this time (8-17-15) on the sudden passing of industry pioneer Bob Ullman, and his wife Joan, who for many of us was an industry fixture in her own right.  I know without question that so many of us feel these losses deeply.

    If it wasn’t for Bob, and his ground-breaking legal work, many of us wouldn’t have jobs or businesses right now.  His work in the now legendary “Black Currant Oil” case involving Traco Labs, and Health From the Sun, where (by his own admission to me over pancakes in Las Vegas) he took every opportunity to be the true showman he was, and make the FDA look foolish in court in the process.  His work with so many clients, and so much legislation has made it possible for this industry to grow, and thrive in the nearly 25 years I have been involved in it.

    As for Joan, she was a piece of work (and I mean this as only a Jewish son could lovingly describe a Jewish mother).  She was always willing to help me as well with anything from theatre tickets to marital advice.

    My favorite memories of them together don’t necessarily involve the industry directly.  Many times at either Expo East, or Expo West, I would spot Joan schlepping (what seemed like) three dozen bags full of samples she took from the various booths.  I would have her come “take a load off” in my booth.  Invariably, Bob would happen by, and they would get into an argument over all the “crap” she took.  I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching them fight (this scene was repeated by my own parents countless times in many U.S. states, as well as a number of foreign countries).  Of course, Joan took the crap home with her.  Most of it's probably still in the house.

    I’ll miss the stories, I’ll miss the blackjack, and I’ll miss the brilliant legal mind.  I’ll miss the lady, and all her mishigas.  Mostly, I’ll miss my friends.

    I speak for all of us when I express my sad condolences to Marc, Ellen, Gail and the rest of the Ullman family in an industry-wide time of sorrow. 

    Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 8/20/15