In Memoriam: PPAI Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Slack

Steve-SlackStephen E. Slack, a 1992 inductee into the PPAI Hall of Fame and member of the PPAI Board of Directors from 1977 to 1981, passed away JUne 25 in Winter Park, Florida. He was 78.

Slack was instrumental in the relocation of the Association from Chicago to Dallas in 1977 and moving the annual trade show to the city. He served as vice chairman for two of his four years on the board; additionally, he served as chair of the PPAI Membership Services Committee for two years and was a volunteer on several other committees throughout his career.

A 25-time PPAI Pyramid Award winner, Slack founded distributorship Marquis Specialty Advertising in Winter Park in 1965 and later brought Marquis into the Geiger family, remaining as president of the operation. One of Slack’s more memorable promotions was a student-athlete fundraising effort for the University of Central Florida in the mid-1980s. The “UCF Gate-Crasher” event raised $1.2 million, the highest total in national collegiate fundraising at that time.

Slack was instrumental in redefining professional education for industry members. He participated in the PPAI Speakers Bureau for 10 years, presenting to colleges and universities as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration and more than 30 advertising clubs. Slack worked with fellow board member Tom Forrester to create the first Education Day in 1976 for PPAI’s annual trade show in Dallas. Later the two would expand it into a format that reached salespeople as well as owners and principals; Slack was a speaker at every Education Day from its inception in 1976 to 1984.

Slack also contributed significantly through his co-authorship of a key resource on the promotional products profession, Specialty Advertising: New Dimensions In Creative Marketing. Co-authored by marketing professor Dr. George Herpel, the text provided insights for both academic and business applications and became the standard publication for teaching about the industry. Slack’s model for developing promotions, given in a step-by-step illustration, was a prominent feature of the book.

Services for Slack, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, will be held Thursday, June 30, at Carey-Hand Cox Parker Funeral Home, 1350 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, Florida 32789. Visitation will be at 6 pm, followed by a service at 7 pm.

In August 2012, the PPAI Board of Directors voted to create a Hall of Fame Memorial Program utilizing PPEF’s Named Scholarships to honor Hall of Fame members for their lifetime contributions to the Association and industry. The board will match donations up to $2,500 to fulfill the $5,000 commitment needed to create a Named Scholarship through PPEF. To date, HOF Named Scholarships have been created in memory of Gene Cesario, Marvin Spike and H.D. Joe Stratton.

To make a gift to establish a scholarship in Steve Slack’s name, send a check payable to PPEF mentioning Slack in the memo line and mail it to PPEF, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. Gifts can also be made online at Click on Donate and enter the gift as a Memorial/Honorary donation.

filed under industry-news | june-2016
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Comments (8)
Mark S. Gilman, Gill Studios, Inc/
July 3, 2016

The 1976 Education Day at the Dallas Show was a watershed moment in the history of PPAI and, indeed the entire industry. That Steve "was instrumental in redefining professional education for industry members" is an accurate, if understated, evaluation of Steve's impact on the industry. He was a wonderful man -- warm, funny, outgoing, a friend to all. Smart, industrious, he was certainly among the most influential men I ever had the good fortune to work with in my years with SAA -- PPAI.

Cliff Quicksell, Jr., MAS+
June 28, 2016

I was so sad to hear the news two days ago. I have known Steve for years and he served as my mentor on several levels. I remember he and I chatting about the Pyramid Awards - (he was the reason I got involved) we were standing at the top of the escalators at the Dallas Convention Center and he asked me, " how many Pyramid Awards do you have now?" at the time I remember proudly boasting, "...14, and I'm coming for your record..." He smiled and said, "...good luck, I have 75...", We both laughed, knowing he was right! But Steve, if you're listening, I now have 26, I will keep trying!

Steve was professional, funny, and very willing to share...I am truly saddened. For those of us that knew him realize that he will be sorely missed - our industry has lost a legend...and a good friend!.

Fred von Oesen
June 28, 2016

We lost one of the very best Cliff. He was my Industry Hero, mentor and best of all, a dear friend. Love you & will miss you forever Steve.

Leslie (Oesen) Ashby
June 28, 2016

So sad to learn of Steve's passing. I fondly remember the first day I met Steve, I was asked to pick him at the airport in Toronto many years ago for a PPPC Education Day. I had no idea what he looked like but Fred told me I would hear his voice and know it was him. I was standing at the gate wishing I had made a sign but then the doors opened and I heard that voice walked up and said excuse me are you Mr. Slack, and he responded in his booming voice that's me Steve Slack! The best part of our first meeting was as I headed out on the highway to downtown Toronto (driving a little too fast) was him blurting out "the speed limit in this country is a 100 (fill in the gap) miles per hour" as I looked over I saw him holding on for dear life one hand on my dash and the other on the handle above the door. There are so many stories about Steve, he is a legend in our industry and the greatest Mentor and friend anyone could ask for. I will forever remember "A Parker Pen and a Hazel Portfolio" for the rest of my life, thank you Steve for your friendship. I will see you on the other side from your "Speed Queen of Canada"

Mary Sells - ASI
June 28, 2016

Back in the day ... Committees, education initiatives, maybe a cocktail party or two. Steve was so passionate and giving of his time and knowledge, a true role model. God rest him!

Margaret Custer Ford, M.A.S.
June 28, 2016

He was one of a kind.. certainly an icon. One of the most creative people I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Not many can leave as indelible a mark on our association history as did Steve!

Margaret Custer Ford, M.A.S.

Sandy Gillman, Gillman Ad Specialties, Representing The Vernon Company
July 13, 2016

I feel totally honored to have been trained by Steve. He certainly left a legacy behind and it is most appropriate to have a Scholarship Fund set up in his memory. Steve introduced me to the industry and made sure that I would be successful. I owe my career to him.

Larry Guest
June 29, 2016

Steve was a true icon in Orlando, applying his mad genius gift to solve any problem. UCF ran up deficits in its budding athletic dept, so Steve produced the Night of Knights fund raiser that wiped out the deficit. During stadium transition when the Citrus Bowl had a disproportionate number of hard-sell end zone seats, Steve invented and headed up "Zonies" promotion aimed at season-long fun and made it cool to sit in the end zone. Bowls all over the country came to study and copy Steve's brainstorm

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