By Elaine Anne Watt
When the shocking news about the sudden death of Joe Stettinius reverberated through our community, our prayers went out to his wife of 22 years, Regina, his two children, Isabel and Alexander, his twin brother Ted, and the rest of his family and friends. Stettinius, 55, suffered a heart attack after having spent a day at his avocation of foxhunting. The fact that more than 1,000 people would attend his funeral just days later at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville is a testament to the deep affection and high regard in which he was held both personally and professionally here and in the world of business.
Daniel “Speedy” Smithwick met Stettinius back in the early 1980s, when they both aspired to be race jockeys. They shared one horse for a time in Richmond and spent a couple of summers doing everything they could to pursue their passion. Smithwick reflects that Stettinius rode very well and was always a pleasure to be around. They treasured a close connection over the years, and Stettinius was Godfather to Smithwick’s daughter, Patricia.
“Joe was the happiest man on God’s green earth,” said Smithwick. “I will always remember him best as a sportsman, as someone who was a lot of fun, social, engaging, sarcastic in a good way, and a very good friend. He was a world traveler, spending a lot of time in Australia particularly, and then he just really fell for foxhunting three to four years ago.”
Joe Davies recalled how Stettinius always was a “free spirit” who eschewed following the traditional path. “He only went to college for about a minute, but he managed to learn the essential business principles better than the rest of us,” he said.
Even though Stettinius loved horses and racing, after five or six years of competing, he realized that he needed to do something else for a living. And that he did.
Stettinius enjoyed a tremendously successful career as a leader in the commercial real estate industry, most recently serving as Cushman & Wakefield’s Chief Executive Officer for the Americas. He was respected for his deep knowledge of all aspects of complicated real estate transactions and for the commitment and integrity with which he conducted his life.
Also, Stettinius served as a Trustee of the Virginia Historical Society and as a Board Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington.
“He was so proud of his family and was just hitting his stride,” said Davies. “He’d achieved enough financial success to enjoy having horses with both Piedmont and Snickersville, and he loved every minute of it,
staying to the very end on his last day as part of the field.”
More importantly, “He and wife Regina, ‘Reg,’ made a great team in business and socially. She turned their rundown farm, Oakfield in Upperville, into a masterpiece. Regina always was so supportive of everything Joe did,” said Davies.
Davies said that recently Stettinius had talked extensively about how “he wanted to focus on the important things, to devote more time to his family and friends. He was interested in getting into breeding and pursuing his love of horses.”
Davies went on to say that “he had a very irreverent sense of humor and was enjoyed by everyone around him. He made people laugh and not take things too seriously. He was an excellent friend, and he will be sorely, sorely missed.” ML