Byline: Cami Alexander

It’s hard to find anyone in Dallas who doesn’t have a fond memory of Stanley Marcus. Chairman emeritus of Neiman Marcus and one of the most innovative leaders in the retail industry, Marcus died Jan. 22 at age 96. While best known for his legendary contributions to retailing, Marcus was also an author, a humorist, a community activist and, not surprisingly, a friend to many. WWD caught up with some of the people whose lives were touched by Marcus and asked how they will remember him:

Debbie Kopec, Marcus’s secretary: “I liked him probably because he was upbeat — he kept plugging on. He was 96 years old and in the office every day. He had remarkable fortitude. He was usually in a good mood. And I knew when he would be hurting. I really admired that. He just kept going — usually faster than me!”

Robert Corsey, Marcus’s chauffeur: “He always said, ‘You’re only as good as the people around you,’ and I felt good by being around him. He had integrity, and I would go as far as to say that he was my mentor. I was very impressed with his longevity. He was an amazing man.”

Mark Russell, Marcus’s personal trainer: “He always had this ability to make people feel at ease around him. He was able to talk to you about anything. And the next time you saw him, he’d be able to remember what you talked about and what he said.”

Bertha McCormick, Marcus’s manicurist: “He was special. I could depend on him. I saw him every week for over 50 years. I’d go to his house or he’d come to me every Thursday at 9:00 [a.m.]. And he loved me and I loved him.”

Allen Questrom, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney and former chairman and ceo of Neiman Marcus: “He was a man you enjoyed being around and always had a positive view on life. Even in his senior years, poor health never became a topic of dinner conversation. He always spoke with great verve and spirit. He dressed to the Ts and was always extremely articulate on whatever subject he addressed.”

W.R. Howell, former chairman and ceo, J.C. Penney: “I remember when we moved the company down here [from New York]. He was still living in their home on the east side of Dallas. He invited my wife and me to their home to meet some local couples. I’ll never forget that Stanley said, ‘I want to show you something.’ He took me down this long hallway, and there was this large plate-glass window, and it was black. He said to me, ‘I knew Mr. Penney, and I had such respect for him and enjoyed brief conversations with him. I was always a little bit envious of his farms and cattle. I’ve never acquired a farm, and I don’t have any real live animals, but I do have this.’ And he switched on the light and showed me a backyard full of artificial cattle! It was funny to hear him say that he, Stanley Marcus, was envious of James Cash Penney. He was very unselfish and had a stature about him that I always respected.”

Bill Winsor, chairman and ceo, Dallas Market Center: “Mr. Marcus’s passing truly signifies the end of an era. Anyone who was fortunate enough to have known Mr. Marcus knew he was truly an inspiration…challenging and encouraging everyone to be the best at whatever they pursued.”

Shelle Bagot, vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus’s flagship in downtown Dallas: “Many things about Mr. Marcus were unique to him: his incredible curiosity about everything — art, music, literature — and his fascination with collections; his genuine interest in individuals and their success. He would take a lot of time sending articles that he thought would be enriching to a person. He was a man of many interests, but a man of great concern and compassion and fairness.”

Bob Benham, owner, Balliet’s, Oklahoma City, and former consulting client of Marcus: “I liked him because he loved what he did. He had a twinkle in his eye all the time. I thought if he can enjoy it this much, I’m going to as well. He’s had a big influence on me.”

Crawford Brock, president of Stanley Korshak and a former consulting client of Marcus: “He had a lot of humor and was very sharp. What an amazing life! It encourages me. I don’t want to retire at 55 or 60. I want to work until I’m 70 or older. He was really motivating.”

Chris V. Semos, Goals for Dallas conferee with Marcus in 1966: “He believed in people’s individual rights, which many times led him to be crossways with many people in Dallas. I’m somewhat frugal, and in 1967, the month before I got married, I bought an expensive cashmere coat at Neiman’s. Fortunately, they’d put it on sale. Twenty-five years later, I ran into Mr. Stanley at some function at Love Field for the Aviation Museum, and I was wearing that black cashmere coat. I couldn’t resist, and I turned to him and said, ‘Your store wouldn’t do well with people like me. I’ve had this coat for over 25 years and I’m still wearing it.’ He said, ‘Well, when you get good quality, they last.”‘

Sandy Kress, attorney and former chairman, Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees: “I loved that part of him that would challenge a community to do more and get engaged. He didn’t hesitate to give people advice on how to do that. Nor did he shy away from telling people the truth when he thought they could do better or do more or focus more on the important things.”

Henry S. Miller Jr., childhood friend, cousin and business associate: “He was really my role model and inspiration. I’m 87 years old, and whenever I started feeling old, I thought of him and how young he was, almost 10 years my senior. It gave me inspiration and incentive to keep going.”

Laura Wilson, friend: “When I was very young, 26, I met Stanley for the first time, and I went with a person from France who had come to see him. He was talking to the person about what he believed. One of the things he said was, ‘I believe in giving flowers to the living.’ I thought that was such a fantastic thing. I always remembered it, and I think he was always true to that.”

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