We've lost some prominent people from the early days of special events.

Irv Handin and Bob Kastner were both executives with Abbey Rents when that company was the industry giant. Michael Prud'Homme was a mainstay at one of L.A.'s premier caterers, Rococo, and went on to found Renaissance Catering.

Their deaths have prompted memories from some prominent people in special events today.

Richard LoGuercio, head of giant Town & Country Event Rentals, remembers working with both Handin and Kastner.

Kastner was “one tough guy, a real company man,” LoGuercio says. “I was 19, and he was very scary. He used to wad up pieces of paper and throw them at my head when he heard me giving out wrong information to a client over the phone. He wanted everything right. Now looking back, a lot of his management style is ingrained in me today.”

Cathee Hickok, Prud'Homme's business partner, says, “Anyone who knew Michael personally thought he was wonderful. His handling of clients made them trusting friends for life.”

Jeff Williams, who started at Abbey and is now vice president of industry leader Classic Party Rentals, hasn't forgotten his mentors, either.

Both Handin and Kastner “really took an interest in young people coming in,” he says, “training them in the day-to-day business, showing the technical aspects of managing as well as the bigger picture of sales. I would never have succeeded in this business if it were not for all that they taught me.”

He adds, “The biggest compliment I can give is that as I got older in our business, I wanted to do the same thing for the younger people coming in — to encourage them and make them better.”

We all feel constant pressure to find the next big thing — the hottest product, the coolest technology. We rush pell-mell into the future, so afraid that we're going to fall behind the competition that we are quick to drop the past. We lose sight of the people who shaped us, who helped us become — whether we realized it at the time or not — what we are today.

And of course, we have to keep rushing forward; we don't have a choice. The technology changes. But the smart, passionate people using it do not. Let's take a moment to thank them.