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The University of Alabama

Renowned UA Professor Morris Mayer Dies

Dr. Morris L. Mayer

Dr. Morris L. Mayer

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — From the banks of the Tombigbee River in Demopolis to the boardrooms of companies around the world, people are mourning the death of Dr. Morris L. Mayer, an icon in the marketing community.

Mayer, Bruno Professor Emeritus of Retail Marketing and former head of the department of marketing at UA, died about 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15 at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. He was 82.

Mayer had been in failing health for several months with Parkinson’s disease but had remained a familiar figure around Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama campus where he taught marketing for more than 30 years.

Despite his failing eyesight, he had a remarkable ability to recognize voices and never lost his cheerfulness and sense of humor.

“Morris Mayer was without peer,” said Dr. J. Barry Mason, dean of the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, “in the classroom, as a colleague, as a friend and as a mentor. I will miss him greatly.”

“The University of Alabama extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Dr. Morris Mayer,” said UA President Robert E. Witt. “Morris served our University and the community for nearly 50 years. He was a man of great character whose sense of service to others guided his every moment. His contributions to the retailing and marketing fields are truly legendary, as are his contributions to students, the University and the community.”

Mayer was born in Demopolis but his family moved to Mobile where he graduated from high school. He served in the Army from 1944 until 1946 in the European Theater. After the war, he moved to Tuscaloosa to attend The University of Alabama where he earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1949 and taught economics for a brief period before heading for New York to earn his master of science degree in retailing from New York University in 1950. After a short stint as an assistant buyer for Abraham and Straus in New York, he was called to active duty with the Army again, until 1952. From 1952 until 1955, he worked as a buyer for Goldblatt Brothers department store in Chicago, and then earned his doctor of philosophy degree in business organization from The Ohio State University.

In 1960 he accepted a position as associate professor of marketing, which marked the start of a long and illustrious career in academia. He was promoted to professor of marketing in 1964 and served as Bruno Professor of Retail Marketing from 1986 to 1992. At the same time, he was director of the Hess Institute of Retailing Development from 1984 until 1992, and chaired the UA marketing department from 1969 until 1974. He was appointed Bruno Professor Emeritus of Marketing in 1992 upon his retirement.

During his 32 years of teaching, Mayer co-authored three highly successful textbooks on retailing, plus numerous other publications.

Mayer also found time to contribute to a number of professional and academic organizations, including serving as faculty advisor to the American Marketing Association, serving on the board of directors of the Alabama Retail Association and serving as president of the Southern Marketing Association and the American Collegiate Retailing Association.

Mayer was recognized in a variety of ways for his work including receiving the distinguished service award from Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the Burlington-Northern Award for Meritorious Teaching from the Burlington-Northern Foundation, The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the UA National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, the AMOCO Outstanding Teacher Award, the Omicron Delta Kappa Student Service Award, the Outstanding Professor Award from the Commerce Graduate Association and the Penny Allen Award for Outstanding Service to Students.

His significant contributions to marketing were recognized with the Southern Marketing Association’s Fellows Award in 1986.

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award awarded by The University of Alabama recognizes one member of the graduating class and members of the teaching faculty who exemplify integrity, selfless service and leadership at UA and in the community along with making significant contributions to student life.

Mayer served on more than 100 public committees, from the Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority to the Tuscaloosa Community Orchestra Board.

He is survived by his widow, Judith Morton Mayer, and daughters Susan M. Bruchis (Marcus) of Montgomery, and Betsy Mayer of Leeds; and two grandchildren, Michael and Leah Bruchis.

The family asked that memorials be directed to Temple Emanu-el Building Fund, Box 3066, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403 or the Morris L. Mayer Award Fund, Office of Advancement, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.

Visitation will be Sunday, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. in the fourth floor parlor of Alston Hall, on The University of Alabama campus, followed by graveside services graveside at 4 p.m. Sunday at Tuscaloosa Memorial Park on Old Birmingham Highway. Parking for visitation will be available in the parking deck across the street from Alston Hall.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.