Joseph Beauregard “JB” Olinde Sr., former president of furniture retailer B. Olinde and Sons Co. Inc., died Tuesday. He was 90.
Olinde was a native of New Roads and a Baton Rouge resident for nearly 70 years. He also served as president of Olinde Hardware & Supply Co. and Brown Brokerage Co. He was a founder and board member of Guaranty Bancshares in New Orleans and Baton Rouge Bancshares. He also served on the board of Hancock Bank of Louisiana.
“He was just a real genuine person, a family man,” said Tom Olinde, who worked alongside his father for more than 30 years. “He never forgot his friends.”
His outlook and personality were tempered by combat in World War II. Olinde left LSU to volunteer in the U.S. Army. He served in the infantry and fought in Europe. He received the Presidential Unit Citation for Extraordinary Heroism and two Bronze Stars with Oak Leaf Clusters.
In 1946, Olinde returned to LSU, graduating with a law degree in 1949. Among his other accomplishments, Olinde was voted outstanding law student of his senior class and president of his law fraternity.
Olinde probably could have done a lot more with his law degree. But his father was ill, and Olinde always put family first, so he joined the family business.
The company, now known as Olinde’s, is more than 120 years old. Olinde’s has four locations in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas: two Olinde’s Furniture stores and two Olinde’s Mattress Superstores. The company also has Ashley Furniture Home stores in Opelousas, Houma, Lake Charles, Ponchatoula, Harahan, Gonzales, Baker and Denham Springs.
“He was just a real gentleman and a caring person that respected everyone that he dealt with, no matter what level he was dealing with,” said Mike Nola, former classified advertising director for The Advocate.
Nola was just starting out as a sales rep more than 40 years ago when he first called on Olinde. Olinde had been running the family business for some time, but didn’t try to intimidate Nola. Instead, Olinde became a friend and a mentor on how to treat people and run a business. When Nola’s son Jeffrey died in 2011, Olinde was right there at the wake, Nola said.
“Relationships were very important to him. He believed in building relationships with his customers, with his vendors, with everyone. And he built them on fairness and integrity,” Nola said. “He just commanded a lot of respect.”
A. Bridger Eglin, former president of Guaranty Corp., said Olinde was one of the most interesting people he’d ever met and a wonderful director.
Olinde never threw his weight around, Eglin said. But he was so knowledgeable, offering advice with subtlety, quietly warning of potential wrong steps or leading a person in the right direction.
“I just appreciated him tremendously. … I’m going to miss him,” Eglin said.
Olinde’s company was twice named Furniture Retailer of the Year. Olinde was a member of a number of civic organizations, serving as president of the Baton Rouge Civitan club and vice president of the Baton Rouge Junior Chamber of Commerce.