Breaking News: In Memoriam: PPAI Hall Of Famer Bill Vernon, CAS

William F. (Bill) Vernon, CAS, former chairman and CEO of Newton, Iowa-based distributor The Vernon Company, passed away on December 3. He was 89.

Vernon began his career at The Vernon Company in 1956 after serving in the United States Army and over the next 64 years was highly engaged in building the multi-generation family business across North America.

His involvement in the promotional products industry was extensive. In the late 1960s, he served on the board of directors for Specialty Advertising Association International (SAAI), now PPAI, and was chair in 1971-72. In 1986, he was honored with induction into the SAAI Hall of Fame. A year later, he was recognized by Counselor Magazine as its Person of the Year and in 2002 the company was awarded the magazine’s Family Business Award. In 2013, Vernon received the Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI).

Beyond his industry activities, Vernon was involved in numerous professional, civic and government organizations throughout his lifetime. He served as a civilian aide to Secretary of the Army for the State of Iowa, the founding chair of the Iowa Games and served as chair of Iowa Association of Business and Industry. He served as chair of The Des Moines Civic Center and was the co-founder and past chair of Progress Industries in Newton, Iowa. Vernon was also past chair of the Iowa Young Presidents’ Organization and served as an international director. Vernon was awarded the Department of U.S. Army’s “Outstanding Civilian Service Medal” and the Chairman Emeritus Founders Award from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for planning and executing the first Iowa Games. In 2002, The Vernon Company was recognized under the Century Businesses of Iowa Program. In 2011, Vernon was inducted into The Hall of Fame at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he served as a Lifetime Trustee, and in 2012 he was inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame by Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

Vernon is survived by his wife Marilyn, their four children (Rick, Chris, Cameron and Stephanie) and six grandchildren. One of his greatest legacies was having all of his children serve in the family’s fourth-generation business. Chris Vernon serves as the company’s CEO, Stephanie Vernon-Critchfield is both a vice-president and the national sales manager, while Rick and Cameron Vernon are company vice-presidents and senior account managers.

A private family graveside service will be held this week in Newton, Iowa, and a celebration of life will be planned next summer in Iowa. Memorials may be made to the Progress Industry Foundation or to the Promotional Products Education Foundation.

Read more about Vernon and his contributions in Tuesday’s PPB Newslink.

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