Crain remembered by friends, family

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Gertrude Ramsay Crain, chairman emeritus of Crain Communications Inc., is being fondly remembered by family, friends and colleagues in marketing and media circles, both for her warmth and generosity and for her high principles in the business world.

Mrs. Crain, 85, died July 20 on Cape Cod. Nearly 1,000 gathered at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral four days later for a mass celebrating her life.

"Gertrude Crain was unfailing in her dedication to guiding the growth of her family's business," said Magazine Publishers of America President Donald D. Kummerfeld. "She presided over that business with a keen eye and gracious strength, which she shared with our entire industry as a member of the MPA's board of directors."

Mrs. Crain, described by Time Inc. Chairman Reginald K. Brack Jr. as "a pillar of the magazine community," was a recipient of MPA's prestigious Henry Johnson Fisher Award in 1993 for lifetime contributions to publishing.

Mrs. Crain is survived by two sons, company President and Advertising Age Editor in Chief Rance Crain and company Vice Chairman Keith Crain, and by nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

At the funeral mass, Keith Crain talked about his mother's love for her employees. "Our company was her family. It was, it is, and it will always be a family business," he said.

Rance Crain commented on his mother's ability to make people feel special. "Mom charmed the great, the near-great and the never-will-be-great with equal sincerity and warmth," he said.


Praise for Mrs. Crain's warm and caring nature and dedication to the family business were repeatedly voiced in comments from leaders in the worlds of advertising, media and marketing. "She had as much energy as people decades younger," said Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines. "I admired her enthusiasm, spirit and love of the business."

"She helped build and run a powerful communications and news organization, and at the same time remained approachable, friendly and a lot of fun to be around," said Wallace S. Snyder, president-CEO of the American Advertising Federation, where Mrs. Crain had served as a charter board member.

Mrs. Crain was well-known for her spirit of adventure. At age 75, she joined race driver Tim Richmond for a 160 mph spin around a motor speedway, and at age 80, she went parasailing.

Howard Bell, president of AAF from 1968 to 1991 and a longtime friend, attested to Mrs. Crain's spirit of adventure. He recalled that several years ago, when he and his wife were guests of the Crain family on Cape Cod, a hurricane hit and "we were ordered to evacuate to a local gym, [but] Gertrude insisted on riding out the storm at home. She remained calm, inspiring us by her courage and resolve. It was not easy, but finally we persuaded her to leave with us."

Mrs. Crain was committed to the public service work of the Advertising Council, on whose board she served for many years.

"She didn't just come to meetings," said Ad Council President Ruth Wooden. "She was always there" when the council needed her, and she was instrumental in helping it establish a Chicago office.

"Mrs. Crain belied her sweet, matronly appearance," said Alex Kroll, chairman of the Ad Council and chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam. "Once we shared a car on the way to the Greenbrier and she regaled me with stories of her latest trip--ballooning in France. She had a great appetite for life and her influence on the business will be missed."

"I was always struck by the energy Gertrude brought to every situation, from simple dinner conversation to addressing advertising trends," said William Lynch, president-CEO of Leo Burnett Co. "We in the business world learned a lot from the example she set."


A world traveler, Mrs. Crain made friends wherever she went, and she became known in the international advertising and media communities.

Didier Guerin, president of Conde Nast Asia Pacific, recalled good times spent at MPA meetings in Paris, the Bahamas and Bermuda. Gohei Kogure, chairman of Japanese agency Dentsu, said: "Her death is a tragic loss for all who knew her, and I am humbled by the remarkable legacy she leaves behind."

And what a legacy it is.

Mrs. Crain, who retired May 20 as chairman of Crain Communications, spent 40 years with the company. She was named chairman in 1974 after serving as secretary and assistant treasurer.

The company, founded in 1916 by her late husband, G.D. Crain Jr., publishes 27 business, trade and consumer publications, and weekly business papers in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and New York.

Donations in Mrs. Crain's name should be made to the Service Club of Chicago, 104 S. Michigan Ave., Room 721, Chicago, Ill. 60603.

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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