As everyone has heard by now, Dr. Norman Booth – our beloved coworker, mentor and friend – passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Dec. 19 after a very brief battle with stomach cancer.
Norm had many passions in life and an extremely successful career, fueled by a powerful intellect, an inquisitive mind and a devotion to academic pursuits. He joined the Coyne PR family in October 2006 and shared his expertise across a variety of industries including higher education, information technology and healthcare. In July 2016, Norm and his wife Jane made the move to Vero Beach, FL where he continued to work remotely for Coyne – just from a sunnier locale!
This week our Coyne family welcomed members of the Booth family to our headquarters for a conference room dedication to our late colleague, Dr. Norm Booth. “The Norm” will forever be a place where we can gather to inspire each other, much like Norm always did. In true Norm spirit, we toasted with a shot of Blanton’s Bourbon and told stories about our dear colleague, mentor and friend.
Always one of the friendliest faces in the office, Norm went out of his way to make sure every person he encountered was having a good day. In his more than 12 years with our company, he certainly left an impact on many of us and will not be soon forgotten. It should come as no surprise that the second we asked members of our Coyne family to share their favorite memories with Norm or his best piece of advice, we received a tremendous amount of feedback. This is a testament to the incredible person Norm was, and just how lucky we are to have known him.
Linda Bernstein Jasper: Back in 2006, we had just won the Siemens account. I was going to manage the consumer side, but we needed someone to manage the Information Technology side. Kevin asked me if I happened to know anyone who had a good grasp of health care IT. I said, “I know just the guy.” I invited Norm into Coyne, and I remember that he showed up in a tweed sport coat with elbow patches, perfectly representing “Norm.” The agency hired him soon after, and that’s how Norm joined the Coyne family.
Susan Wilton: My first memory of Norm was from his very first day at Coyne, when we were headed to Hard Rock for a celebration. I sat with Norm on the bus and offered him a beer. His immediate response was, “This is the best first day I have ever had in my history of work!”
Kelly Dencker: Norm was the Tom Brady of business school PR! No one knew the “ins and outs” of working with business schools, professors or education media better than our own Dr. Booth! He was greatly respected by his clients, who regularly sought out his counsel and hung on his every word. It certainly didn’t hurt that he was a “professor” himself, and looked the part like someone straight out of Central Casting!
Jennifer Kamienski: Long before we worked with Beam, on a trip to Portland, Norm gave a me a great education on Bourbon; especially a brand called Blanton’s. Fun fact, learned from the Doctor, the bottle stopper features a variety of jockeys and horses that are highly collectible. It’s become a go-to gift for my husband. No matter if it was bourbon or technology, there was always a lesson to learn from Norm. Today, I raise a glass of Blanton’s to you, Norm. You are missed dearly.
Kevin Lamb: The one thing that I always appreciated about Norm is that he made me think differently – that’s the mark of a good teacher. He always took a very academic approach to thinking about a business problem, and he always challenged me in that regard. I always enjoyed talking with Norm about client strategy, business issues and communications challenges, because he challenged my approach and perspective. He possessed a calm demeanor that set a tone for his team – you never saw him sweat, you never saw him agitated or aggravated. He established a standard for his team by which to approach their work – respectful, thoughtful, strategic, but with the perfect dose of levity. He had a dry, sometimes stinging wit that always brought a smile to my face. But perhaps most of all, he cared…a lot. He cared about his clients – he’d go to whatever extent necessary to ensure their satisfaction, and to engage in fruitful discourse and debate in the interest of arriving at the best possible outcome. He was the consummate educator – providing the tools, encouragement and situations in which his team members could develop their critical thinking, their tactical skills and, ultimately, their careers.
Beth Kimmerling: So many great memories of Norm, but the first time Annabel came to work with me (she was 1), she was obsessed with a little dog statue he had in his office. She just kept going in and petting it and talking to it. I kept going to get her and apologizing but he kept kicking me out so she could stay with the dog. He just always had a warm smile and kind words for you, no matter how busy he might’ve been.
Ann Smith: One of my favorite memories of Norm was watching him wax academic poetic to a group of highly acclaimed business professors at one of the most prestigious business colleges in the country. He held them in the palm of his hand and I didn’t understand a thing he was saying. Norm was never one to get flustered over anything. He approached every issue with calm thoughtfulness and logic. Truly a gift. While called “The Doctor” he was far more a teacher, a mentor and a coach gently steering his protégés to greater heights.
John Gogarty: My favorite Norm memory was when I walked by his office one cold December day and saw that he transformed it into a living room with a fireplace, a faux brick wall, hot cocoa and a stuffed dog. It represented the warm and welcoming nature of Norm. He was always willing to lend a hand, give sound advice and help you out of a jam with some smart thinking.
Erin Drelick: In a word…what I will remember about Norm is his kindness. He had a tremendous mind and was so incredibly sharp and knowledgeable about so many things. And while his intellect was beyond superior, his willingness to help and share guidance and support was limitless. Over the years he provided me with perspective on so many topics ranging from Medicare, to humorous responses to emails about ideas for the business schools I shared with him to a very sweet message after I had my daughter. He will be missed more than any amount of words I’d be able to put on paper. Heart of gold, kindness of a kindergartener and a twinkle on his face like Santa Claus.
Mark Parrella: I will always be grateful that Norm taught me how to understand millennials!
Randi Rispoli: I have nothing but great memories of Norm. One of my favorite things he did was call me solely to speak to my daughter Avery whenever I worked from home. He treated her as if she was his own grandchild. I’ll always remember how Norm shared great constructive criticism but, more importantly, how he always made sure to let us know when we were excelling at what we were doing. He always made sure to let us know how much he appreciated us and how proud he was of us, which is something that will stick with me.
Tom Coyne: I always enjoyed dropping by Norm’s office for some interesting conversation. He provided worldly points of view, and you always got the sense he had values above all. He really cared about people and doing the right thing. It is wonderful to know someone possessed such intellect and compassion at the same time. Just a great guy.
Adrienne Teofrio: I’m not even sure where to start – Norm left me with so many great pieces of advice, including: Make sure to read the NYTimes and the WSJ every morning; just breathe and stop talking so fast; and don’t forget to shoot the breeze with clients – they’re people, too. I’ll always remember when he made me try Blanton’s Bourbon for the first time and all the times he tried to get me to drink martinis. I’ll take the bourbon over vodka for sure!
Tania Fonovic: From NDA’s to byline opportunities – this is the man who taught me everything! Norm gave me the confidence to take chances and ask for forgiveness later. He was not only my boss but my friend and mentor. One of my favorite memories with Norm was when he and I got our flu shots and we just kept making jokes to the point that everyone in the room was laughing and no longer worried if the shot would hurt! I will miss him dearly.
Jonathan Pocius: I was lucky enough to call Norm a boss, mentor and most importantly, a friend. He provided me with my first opportunity in this business nearly 15 years ago and later helped me to secure a position at Coyne. His easygoing, yet amazingly thoughtful approach provided a great blueprint for success both at work and at home. We shared a ton of memories together – working conferences and events coast to coast, pitching three new business prospects in one day, growing the B2B team and building meaningful relationships with clients. Despite our often busy schedules, he always took the time to talk about things outside of work – because he genuinely cared. Many at Coyne referred to us as “Normathan” since we were always joined at the hip. While Norm passed along an endless amount of advice, I’m grateful for his constant reminders to push myself outside of the comfort zone and tackle new challenges. His legacy lives on…
Janet Schiller: My memories of Norm are of a colleague whom I could always go to for sage advice, an ear to listen to my complaints and frustrations and a humorous perspective that would get me laughing. My favorite memory with Norm is when we went to Ithaca for a presentation at Cornell and he took me on a tour of the local headshops, which amazed him in their quantity – there were several on every block – and also for their artistic merit. They had really beautiful pipes for sale (not that either of us purchased any – we were just window shopping!).
Jamie Paster: Norm was one of the first people I was introduced to when I started working at Coyne and anyone who’s met Norm knows you can feel the warmth of his personality in an instant. While I quickly got shuffled over to a new team, Norm would still make it a point to call me in his office just to catch up and chat – he always took a genuine interest in hearing about my life. The cheer he brought to everyone and everything he did was infectious – you could never leave a room or a meeting with Norm and not be in a better mood than when you showed up. Norm took risks and never held back, whether it was driving a motorcycle to work every day because it was his passion or making the journey to move to Florida to fulfill his dream of days filled with nothing but warm weather. He was a great example and a reminder to always be true to exactly who you are and live life to the fullest.
Lisa Wolleon: Norm was an amazing person who offered profound insight on nearly every topic imaginable and did it with such a great sense of humor. If I ever needed an answer on something or a laugh about life, the doctor was the answer.
It’s safe to say that Norm will definitely be missed by his Coyne family. Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts. Norm, we are certainly lucky to have known you.
And the next time you need some inspiration or just a reminder to not sweat the small stuff, we’ll see you in “The Norm.”