Al Stone, who with partner Ron Judy formed Nintendo of America back in the early ’80s, passed away Friday, Feb. 17, after a brave battle with cancer. We use the word “brave” because Al faced his ailment with an enormous amount of courage over the past year as he considered some difficult treatment options. At this point, we have no further details, but will send them out when we get them.
Al and Ron, the story goes, weren’t exactly sure what the future held for them at their U.S. Nintendo base as the company’s initial coin-operated games weren’t exactly barn burners for them. But one day, a crate from the Japanese parent company holding a brand-new machine called Donkey Kong showed up. The game’s name was a Japanese book translation of the phrase “stupid monkey,” but its video monitor featured more than the barrel-tossing ape: it introduced the world to the Mario Bros., and the rest was — and still is — history.
After the two partners eventually separated, Al went on to lead Sega of America out of that company’s San Francisco headquarters. He spent many productive years there, not only piloting their game marketing, but also playing a role in the Sega GameWorks arcade net. The manufacturing and distributing phones lit up when news of his death hit. Folks like Elaine Shirley, Ken Anderson (who worked for him for some years), Tony Maniscalco and Ron Malinowski all shared the news. Said Ron:
“Sad news Friday morning. Al was a terrific man. The term of ‘heart of gold’ likely evolved because of him. I will always remember when he started a division at Sega for me and Drew Maniscalco to develop games. He’ll be missed by so many folks. God speed, Al!”