Reflecting upon the legacy of Norm

In April, my wife Ann and I received the tragic news that our dear friend and longtime GMDC colleague Norm Loringer had passed away after nobly battling a series of health issues for a number of years. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing Norm and his wife Marlene over the years, his passing is all the more tragic because we have lost him at far too young of an age when he still had much to do.

Norm will be remembered for many things, including his outstanding 36-year career at Colgate-Palmolive that included a trajectory up the sales-management ladder that culminated in his being named Colgate’s director of trade development. It was in his trade development role that Ann and I had the good fortune of getting to know Norm and Marlene early in my career as GMDC president. Ann and I were both green and moving in new circles unfamiliar to us. Norm and Marlene embraced both of us as mentors to help us better manage a challenging transition. They grew to become among our dearest friends as we got to know one another’s kids and developed a relationship that transcended business — it was personal.

I reflect on our personal experience because I believe our relationship with Norm and Marlene is similar to many of those within GMDC who were privileged to know them and work with Norm. His positive, upbeat approach to people, business and life in general was infectious — not to mention that incredible smile and hardy laugh of his. He was a person who truly loved spending time with others, and more than anything, he valued the opportunity to mentor those who were coming up through the ranks. Ask Peter Thompson, Joe Bivona, Jim Wonderly and Brian Bradley how Norm impacted their professional and personal lives.

Norm’s legacy will always include the honors and accomplishments he achieved as a business person. We’re incredibly proud that he was the recipient of the 2005 GMDC Lifetime Achievement Award. However, from my perspective, the true legacy of Norm was the way he — along with Marlene — taught a younger generation of leaders how to make time for anyone and everyone regardless of their business value to your company. With Norm, it was always about your value as a person, and he truly loved people.

The great love of his life, Marlene, and their children — Brenda, Jeff and their families — were the absolute center of Norm’s universe, and our hearts collectively go out to all of them for their loss. Hopefully they will find solace in the fact that their husband, father and grandfather had such a profound impact on so many. We’ll miss you Norm and look forward to a glass of Silver Oak and a good cigar when we meet again someday! Cheers, my friend.

Dave McConnell is president and CEO of the Global Market Development Center.

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