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:
“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