Jim Kendall, a business marketing expert who authored a column on the topic for the Daily Herald and the Daily Herald Business Ledger over the past 16 years, died suddenly July 23.
By his own count, Kendall, 81, wrote a total of 740 columns for the two Daily Herald Media Group publications. His “On Small Business” columns focused on guiding small business owners and entrepreneurs through complex issues. He tapped into the expertise of suburban experts, many times sharing their personal stories of how they were able to overcome obstacles.
The Wheaton resident was a consummate networker and a regular attendee at suburban chamber and business association events, including the Business Ledger’s Newsmakers Forums and award ceremonies. It was through that networking, he once said, that he found inspiration for many of his columns.
“When he first approached me with the idea of doing a business marketing column, I was leery,” said Daily Herald Deputy City Editor James Kane, who was the paper’s business editor when he agreed to run Kendall’s column in 2005. “But he quickly won me over with the quality of his advice and of his writing.
“He proceeded to reliably turn out a weekly column with useful marketing tips, regularly quoting and giving credit to others, never trying to use the column to promote himself or his friends,” Kane added. “He was a genuine nice guy, a class act and a straight-shooter.”
Kendall was president of Kendall Communications, a public relations-marketing-communications consulting firm. Before starting his own business, he had been with the U.S. League of Savings Associations as director of public relations and senior editor of Savings Institutions magazine. Prior to that, he was with IGA Food Stores Corporation as editor of IGA Grocergram magazine.
“After decades of working with small savings and loan institutions, my dad was pleased to share thoughts and resources with small business owners in all industries through his column,” said his daughter, Tracey Coleman.
Kendall retired his Daily Herald column in September 2019, but that retirement was short-lived as he returned to do a monthly column in the Business Ledger last March. His final column ran in the Business Ledger’s July issue.
“While I hope there has been a benefit to readers, I’ve reaped perhaps the most important benefits: Getting to know, and appreciate, literally hundreds of small business owners — among the finest business people anywhere; getting to work with some of the best journalism professionals you or I or anyone else will find anywhere; and at the same time getting to enjoy the freedom to choose my own column topics,” he wrote in his column last September.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, daughter Tracey, son-in-law Robert, and granddaughters Melinda and Gretchen. He was predeceased by his parents, Harry and Mary Kendall.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Kendall’s name may be made to the Bradley Fund, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, or to the Friends of the Wheaton Municipal Band, Wheaton, IL. Granddaughter Melinda is a member of that summer band.