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In Memoriam: Market Research Loses A True Pioneer In Bill Weylock

Posted by Leonard Murphy Thursday, August 15, 2013, 17:53 pm
Industry veteran Bill Weylock has passed away after a battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.
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Bill and his beloved Wheaten Terrier, Walter.

It’s with a very heavy heart that I write this: industry veteran Bill Weylock has passed away after a battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Not only has the market research industry lost a true pioneer, but on a very personal note one of my best friends and longtime business partners is gone as well.

For those who might not have had the privilege of knowing Bill, here is a bit about him.

Bill provided decision support to leading manufacturers, service providers, direct response marketers, and agencies for more than 30 years. With a background that included training in counter-intelligence during his service to his country in Vietnam, and a client history rich in Fortune 100 companies, Bill brought a unique mixture of insight and expertise to market research. He had a long-standing commitment to cutting edge approaches to gathering data and delivering insights. He conducted the first online focus group in 1994 on CompuServe and developed a proprietary process for online audio-video focus groups.

Bill’s leadership roles in industry associations and many years designing and analyzing the GRIT studies gave him especially valuable perspectives on industry trends and emerging research techniques. A founding member and two term President of QRCA, he also served as Chair of the Research Industry Coalition and on several councils of the Advertising Research Foundation, taught Marketing Research at New York University Management Institute, was published in many industry journals and was a contributor to the GreenBook Blog.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he lived in Los Angeles with a strong-willed wheaten terrier named Walter.

Bill is survived by his three brothers and Walter. He is mourned by the many friends and colleagues he had the world over.

That all describes what Bill did, but not who he was. I’m not sure I can do that here either, but perhaps I can share a few things to give you a sense of what a one of a kind person he was.

Bill and I connected via LinkedIn (how else?) back in 2006 when Rockhopper Research was just getting off the ground. He quickly impressed me with his intelligence, experience, wit and charm. He became a full Partner in Rockhopper and we became fast friends. That dynamic of being friends who worked together didn’t change up until the last week or so, when his health took a drastic turn for the worse and the work aspect wasn’t part of the equation anymore. The friendship remained.

My kids called him “Uncle Bill”: he never missed a holiday or birthday without sending a card or a gift to my family. His friends were very much family to him and it was a privilege to be among that group.

He suffered no fools and had a razor sharp wit when warranted to take them down. On more than one occasion I was on the receiving end of it, for which I always thanked him later. It was very rare for me to have the opportunity to do the same.

Bill was always willing to help a friend, no matter what the issue. He was quick to offer aid to family and friends and was prone to random acts of generosity to those close to him, never expecting anything in return. Thankfully I was able to follow his example, but the scale remained heavily in his favor upon his passing.

If anyone could be said to have a silver tongue and a golden pen, it was Bill. The man could turn a phrase better than anyone I have ever met. When working under deadlines his fussiness to find just the right wording could give those working with him fits, but in the end it was always worth it. Anything he touched he made better.

He was the best moderator I ever saw; he could get a group to engage, be comfortable, and share honestly like nobody’s business. The quality of the insights he could generate from qualitative research was second to none.

The term “a true scholar and a gentleman” definitely applied. He was well educated, well read, well-traveled and deeply engaged with the world around him, while never being arrogant. Raised in the South, he had that unique Southern charm and sense of decorum that is rare today.

He loved the entertainment business: theater, movies, music, TV. He was an actor and did voice over work for many years and was still deeply connected to the theater world; until the time of his passing he was working with long time partners on several projects.

Most of all Bill was simply a good man and my friend. He truly was one of kind and he shall be missed by all those who were blessed to know him. I doubt the world will see his like again, and we are all poorer for losing him.

Per his wishes Bill was cremated and his family held a private gathering. Friends and colleagues  are urged to organize their own memorials as appropriate.

Rather than sending flowers, please donate to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in his name. A special tribute page with instructions on how to donate can be found here:

http://pulmonaryfibrosis.donorpages.com/Tribute/BillWeylock

“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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13 Responses to “In Memoriam: Market Research Loses A True Pioneer In Bill Weylock”

  1. Ellen Woods says:

    August 15th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    That was a beautiful tribute and how wonderful it must have been to be the person deserving of it. A life well lived is worth much more than a well lived life. In the end, we are less remembered for what we accomplished materially, and more for what we did that touched the heart.

    It must be nice to leave with no regrets. We should all be so lucky as to have people who love us for who we are rather than what we did. I’m sure there’s peace in that and thank you Lenny for sharing that inspiration with all of us and thank you Bill for being the one to inspire.

  2. Leonard Murphy says:

    August 15th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks @Ellen, that means a lot. You guys would have gotten along really well. :)

  3. Gregg Archibald says:

    August 16th, 2013 at 10:04 am

    What a gracious, fun, intelligent, witty, sarcastic, intelligent, and loving man! He is already missed.

  4. www.klcommunications.com says:

    August 16th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Very sorry to receive this news. I only met Bill a few times, but I was impressed by his candor & warmth. He was a true gentleman and I don’t use that term loosely.

  5. Diane Harris says:

    August 16th, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Lenny, you did a masterful job in describing and honoring Bill. I’ve known Bill for more decades than I care to admit, and a lot of people have come and gone on my radar screen in those decades, but Bill is unforgettable because he is so unique. You said it just right that he is one of a kind. I tried to describe to my husband why this loss runs so deeply for me. The best I could say was that some people are more alive than others, and it’s impossible to imagine them otherwise. Bill is definitely more alive than others, even in his passing.

    I have many emails from him, several from just last Monday, plus volumes of his writing for QRCA.. He was a renaissance man in the truest form. He loved all things traditional, like cordiality, manners and writing on real letterhead paper with real pens, yet embraced technology with a passion before his peers even knew what he was talking about.

    But best of all was your capturing of his “silver tongue” and “golden pen”. His way with words was masterful and you’re right that there is not, nor will there be anyone like him. I cried deeply yesterday knowing he was leaving us. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. I will miss you dear Bill.

  6. Leonard Murphy says:

    August 16th, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thanks @Gregg and @Diane; you added much to what I tried to say. Diane, you especially made me tear up all over again. Indeed, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

  7. Monica Zinchiak says:

    August 16th, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Lenny – your tribute to Bill is spot on. Bill was a brilliant man and one of the first QRCAers to welcome me when I joined. I was excited when he became part of our chapter, although we didn’t get to see him enough. When we engaged, he always ran circles around me :) Boy did I enjoy that! Bill we be remembered and missed by many.

  8. Snorri Gudmundsson says:

    August 18th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Beautifully written, Lenny. A worthy tribute.

  9. Susan Thornhill says:

    August 19th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you so much, Lenny, for articulating the essence of Bill. What a unique and extraordinary man. His “razor sharp wit and golden pen” would make me truly sit and marvel at communications I received from him. The subject would long be forgotten but his wit and style would have left me feeling like I have been given a very special gift. His strong spirit will always remain with his QRCA friends.

  10. Margaret Roller says:

    August 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Hello Lenny -
    I am just seeing this and saddened to hear the news. Bill and I go way back to the early days of QRCA. He and I (and others) worked on a QRCA committee to increase the scholarship of qualitative research in the college classroom. An endeavor dear to my heart that ultimately fizzled out, but at least it gave me the pleasure of working with Bill.
    Thank you for your wonderfully-written post.

  11. Jeffrey Jordan says:

    August 21st, 2013 at 11:03 am

    My condolences Leonard on the passing of your close friend. The tribute was extremely well-written and it seems some of Bill’s quest for ‘finding just the right words’ was not lost on you.

  12. Mary Samuelson says:

    November 24th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Lenny,
    Why didn’t you contact me??? I was afraid this had happened. Bill has been on my mind so much lately, and I actually tried to call him several times over the past two months but kept getting disconnect notices. I decided to Google Brand3Sixty to see if I could find a new number for him and found this, instead. When Bill came to see me last year I feared that it was a farewell visit. I could tell that his health was worse than he was letting on, and will be forever grateful for the hours we spent together sitting on a bench in Tower Grove Park talking and laughing. I loved this man so very much. He was my boss, my friend, my workmate, and the person I could always count on to make me laugh. I will never forget the first time I talked to him when I was applying for the position at Rockhopper. It was as if I had found an old friend, even though we had never met before that day. The two days he spent here in St. Louis are precious to me, and I will cherish the memory of him sitting in the restaurant eating chicken and dumplins and laughing about forgetting to temp the eggs when he tried to make my mom’s banana pudding, and the evening we went to dinner and he and Tom carried on the entire evening. :-) I have missed working with him so much over the past three years and over the past several months I’ve thought of him several times a week and said to myself, “I MUST call Bill and catch up.” Now it’s too late, and as tears stream down my cheeks at the missed opportunities to talk with him and let him know how very much I cared about him, I know that he knew it anyway. Now he is in heaven with his beloved Ralph, and I’m sure the two of them are romping around everywhere and Bill is healthy and young again. God bless you Bill Weylock, for all the joy you brought others and for being my friend. I will miss you until we meet again.
    Mary

  13. Sheila Slutsker says:

    December 20th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Lenny: I’m devasted and although I’ve questioned not being able to contact Bill, I hoped for the best. My husband was his first cousin…Bill’s Dad was my husband’s mother’s brother. We both loved him dearly and feel so badly that we didn’t even really know he was ill. Although I’ve met his brothers over the years, it’s John with whom I’d like to communicate. I’d deeply appreciate any address (or if you prefer giving John my address that’s fine) you can give me. Tom, my husband, is not well, so I’m the one who has maintained the contact. To you, I send my deepest sympathy…The loss of a beloved friend is both painful and so very difficult.
    I’ll look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience………Sheila

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