IJO Founder Dies

William F. Roberts Jr., the founder of the Independent Jewelers Organization, the world's largest jewelers' buying group, died Aug. 8 while vacationing in Highlands Falls, N.C. He was 83. A statement from IJO, located in Norwalk, Conn., praised its founder: “For decades the recipient of extraordinary respect, Bill will be missed by many friends and former colleagues, but his legacy will continue with the ongoing perpetuation of his business philosophy to IJO members.” Roberts served as a Marine in the Pacific Theater during World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart. He was a salesman with the Orange Blossom jewelry company when he founded IJO in 1972 in Westport, Conn. Propelled by his salesmanship, IJO quickly attracted members and notice from the industry. Beginning with 52 members, it grew over the next two decades into the largest buying group of independent jewelers in t

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