Cesario worked in the promotional products industry for 47 years. His career began in a sales role at supplier Arthur Salm Co. in Chicago from 1965-1975. Later, he served as president of Everlast Pen Co. and of supplier Liberty Playing Card Co., an Arlington, Texas, company he bought in 1990.
“Gene Cesario was a passionate and outspoken business owner, father and husband, and an honored member of the PPAI Hall of Fame,” says Steven Meyer, MAS, PPAI Chair of the board. “He leaves a legacy of great accomplishments both as a businessman and as a volunteer leader. Gene never quit caring about the industry he loved so much. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family and many friends.”
Passionate about the relationships he’d formed in the industry as well as the promotional products business’ profitability, sustainability and education, Cesario formed Advertising Products Suppliers (APS) in 2003. As APS executive director, he created an advisory board of the industry’s leading suppliers as well as key industry members. Their mission was to give promotional products suppliers a voice and protect their interests in the industry.
A dedicated volunteer and leader in the promotional products industry, Cesario received numerous honors during his career. Actively involved with PPAI for many years, he earned a seat on the Association’s Board of Directors Class of 1988 and was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame in 1997.
Cesario was also a member of PPAI’s Hall of Fame Advisory Group, Leadership Advisory Committee, International Long Range Planning Committee, Headquarters Building Committee and Membership Service Committee. He sat on the board of the CAS/MAS Education Foundation, which became Promotional Products College Education Foundation (now Promotional Products Education Foundation) in 1989. He was chair from 1989-1991. He also served on the board for the Specialty Advertising Association Southwest and as the associate chair of the CAS/MAS Alumni Association’s Promotional Products College Education Foundation Round Table. He was awarded PPAI’s first Veteran’s Facilitator Award, as well as an Outstanding Contribution for Creation and Leadership Award by the CAS/MAS Education Foundation. In addition, he was a recipient of a PPAI Golden Pyramid Award and PPAI’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for his work on the Headquarters Building Committee.
Outside of the promotional products industry, Cesario was a member of the Arlington Rotary Club, an active Republican Presidential Task Force Committee leader, and appeared in three books: Personalities of America, Honoring America’s Leaders, 4th edition, for services to the advertising profession, PPAI At 100, and Who’s Who In U.S. Executives.
Cesario was a member of the Walnut Creek Country Club for more than 30 years, participating in its Retired Men’s Golf Association. He also enjoyed traveling the world with his wife and friends, supporting the sports and theater activities of his grandchildren, and spending time with his extended family.
Cesario grew up on Chicago’s West Side where he excelled in baseball, football, basketball and drama. Two years out of high school, in 1959, he married his wife, Maria. He is survived by his wife of 53 years; his daughters Debbie Cesario and Corine Wofford and her husband, Michael; son Paul Cesario and his wife, Tracy; his grandchildren Anthony and Andrew Wofford, Cameron Cesario, Christopher Cesario, Dominick Cesario and his wife, Molly; and his great-granddaughter Caroline Cesario; alongside brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and lifelong friends.
A celebration of Gene Cesario’s life will be held August 12 from 2-7 pm at Blessings Funeral Home in Mansfield, Texas. The funeral service will be August 13 at 10 am at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Mansfield, Texas. Family and friends may contribute to the Promotional Products Education Foundation in his name. Click on “Donate” and under Gift Information, select Memorial/Honorary.