The longtime owner of Smokey’s Pizza, known for his charitable giving to sports teams and schools, has died at the age of 53.
Wayne Redjou died Jan. 2 from complications of cancer surgery, wife Dellan Redjou said Wednesday. Wayne Redjou was in remission from throat cancer, which had emerged again in October.
His death was “very unexpected,” Dellan Redjou said.
Alongside his wife, Wayne Redjou skippered operations of the well-known local chain restaurant since the early 1980s. His father and grandfather had opened the restaurant in 1965. After earning a degree in business administration from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wayne Redjou started overseeing Smokey’s, said Dellan Redjou.
In its heyday, the Vancouver business had seven locations. Currently, there are two, in Orchards and Hazel Dell.
Dellan Redjou said her husband had a passion for the maintenance side of the restaurant and interacting with customers. There was no question what he would do after college, she said.
“He said, ‘I always wanted to do this,’” Dellan Redjou said. “He loved being behind the counter. He loved talking to people.”
In addition to operating Smokey’s, the couple sponsored hundreds of local sports teams and donated to schools. Dellan Redjou also was the longtime chairwoman of the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands. In 2010, the couple were inducted by the Rotary Club of Vancouver Sunrise into the Clark County Hall of Fame.
About their giving, Dellan Redjou said: “We always felt that as a member of this community, it was part of our responsibility to give back.”
The Redjous also provided meeting space for sports teams.
Teams were known to celebrate after games at Smokey’s, and Wayne Redjou was a well-known fixture there, said Jeff Swenson, coach of Smokey’s softball team in the Vancouver adult softball league.
The Redjous sponsored Swenson’s team for 20 years. Swenson said Wayne Redjou would often stop at the team’s table to chat about their game.
“He’s a genuine, good-hearted, fun-loving guy,” Swenson said. “He always looked out for the other guy. He was a guy who liked to help.”
Many remembered Wayne Redjou on Smokey’s Facebook page, including former employees, patrons and Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas.
“So sorry for the loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Lucas wrote.
A memorial service took place Monday at Evergreen Memorial Gardens. About 300 people were in attendance, Dellan Redjou said.
Wayne Redjou is survived by his wife and two daughters, Kelly and Rachael, ages 12 and 16, respectively.