Rob Thielke Dies At 50: Vern Fonk TV pitchman Is Dead

August 20, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Rob Thielke has died at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Thielke, who was the well-loved president of Vern Fonk Insurance based in Washington and Oregon, is survived by his wife and children.

Rob Thielke Dies

Famous pitchman Rob Thielke died after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement issued by Vern Fonk Insurance. The loving father and husband passed away on Sunday at the age of 50.

Vern Fonk Insurance, which is based in Washington and Oregon, is a high-risk auto insurance enterprise started in Seattle in 1989 by Vern Fonk. In 1989, Thielke landed a job as an agent in the company and ten years later, he was named president until 2010.

Rene Mulvaney, the founder’s daughter and her husband, Kevin Mulvaney, who owned the company, sold it to Confie in 2010. During the time he ran the business, Thielke found ways to promote it with a series of commercials that are considered classics by his legion of fans.

Some of the most memorable ads included Thielke spoofing hit movies like Forrest Gump, Napoleon Dynamite and Star Wars. He also spoofed famous Detroit rapper Eminem.

The local advertisements boosted sales and made it possible for the Mulvaney family to expand to over 23 locations throughout Washington and Oregon. According to Mr. Mulvaney, people often assumed that Thielke was Mr. Vern Fonk and asked for his autograph, which he would sign as Vern Fonk. Mulvaney stated:

“It was his comedy that made him a Puget Sound icon. He loved being in front of the camera and playing Vern Fonk and we just let him go.”

Craig Rexroat, Vern Fonk Insurance’s chief operating officer, said in a statement:

“Today with the passing of Rob, the company will carry on but not without the impact of Robert A. Thielke III and the unforgettable brand that was built.”

He added:

“Rob and I worked together for 25 years at Vern Fonk Insurance. We were lucky enough to work side by side in the early years and as the company grew, our strengths were capitalized upon. In addition to his steadfast leadership, Rob enjoyed dreaming up ideas for TV commercials even before we had hired a production company.”

A montage of Thielke’s best ads will be broadcast in the forthcoming days, people can pay tribute to him by honking their horn as they drive by one of the locations.


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