A Leader to Be Remembered -Gary Marx, APR

Note: Long-time NSPRA member and international public relations guru, Gary Marx, APR, passed away last Friday, May 31, 2019, after a battle with cancer. NSPRA Executive Director Rich Bagin, APR, shares his thoughts about Gary below.

Gary Marx has been a leading member and top professional in the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for more than 4 decades. He taught us all about the need for substantive and strategic public relations and his enthusiasm for excellence in our profession was unmatched.

He paved new ground for our profession while at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) for 2 decades where he collaborated with NSPRA leaders to publish and make presentations on the need for strategic communication for many superintendents throughout our nation. More recently, he earned the title of futurist as he used his research skills to develop and publish future trends for all leaders in education. 

In 1999, Gary received NSPRA’s highest honor, the NSPRA President’s Award, which recognized him for his national and ongoing achievement in the school communication profession. 

If there were a Mount Rushmore monument for the school PR profession, Gary would be there. Gary devoted his life-long career to the principles of engagement leading to democratic societies whether they be a small town in South Dakota or in an Eastern European village. His love of travel and learning and his willingness to share and teach what he learned helped mold him into a stellar role model for those who got to know and appreciate Gary Marx. 

Gary was also one of the most positive leaders I ever met. He always had a good thing to say about people and their programs. I was struck that he would often ask me for the email address of a “PR newbie” who wrote a strategic piece about a particular situation for us. He would praise the author directly, and I was sure that she did not know that the praise came from such a legend and distinguished and literate pro like Gary Marx.

On the lighter side, Gary could never avoid making a good — or, yes, even a bad pun during our times together. His eyes and demeanor sparkled when he sort of egged on his “pun-friendly” crowd with a game of “Can you top this?” And the louder the groan, the better.

Gary was also known for cramming as much info into his presentations as possible. He never met a PowerPoint slide that he couldn’t fill. His presentations normally ran a bit over the allotted time, but today we wish we could again strain to read a Gary Marx PowerPoint.

Gary leaves a legacy of substance, intellect, curiosity and enthusiastic positivity for all of us. He made a difference and showed us the way.

He was a leader to not only remember, but also to emulate.