Zemke Ronald E. Zemke Ron Zemke, a well- known business writer and consultant, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 62. Ron was president of Performance Research Associates, a Minneapolis consulting company he founded in 1972 to conduct organizational effectiveness and productivity improvement studies for business and industry. He was a consultant to many `Fortune 500' companies, including Wachovia Bank and Trust, Citibank, and American Express Financial Advisors. He was author or co-author of 38 books, senior editor of Minneapolis-based `Training' Magazine, and a syndicated columnist with the American City Business journals. Ron's best-selling 1985 book `Service America! Doing Business in the New Economy' is widely credited with starting the American customer service revolution. His "Knock Your Socks Off Service" series of 11 customer service books spread his service gospel to millions of readers. He also co-authored `Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers and Nexters in Today's Workplace' and `The Service Edge: 101 Companies that Profit from Customer Care.' Ron's wit and wisdom - and passion for sharing them - led to a four-decade career as an author and public speaker. He was an astute observer of business trends, and his vivid prose and distinctive style earned him recognition throughout the management world. In 1994, he received the Mobius award from the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals and was named one of America's "new quality gurus" by `Quality Digest Magazine.' In 1999, he was given the Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award by the International Society of Performance and Instruction. Ron was born March 7, 1942, in Sterling, IL, to parents Mae Elizabeth and Elwood Ray Zemke. He attended Sterling Township high school, where his diverse interests were already evident. He was a member of the National Honor Society; the science club; the wrestling team; and the orchestra, jazz band and pep band. He graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, IA, in 1960 and completed graduate work at the University of Minnesota. In both high school and college, he was a conference wrestling champion. In May 2002, he was named a Sterling high school distinguished alumni for his achievements in high school and his successful business career. Ron served on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra and was a vice president of the Board of Directors of Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Ron's diverse interests made him a memorable teacher, colleague and friend. He traveled widely and enjoyed hiking in Tuscany and Montana. Ron was a gourmet cook, enjoyed fine wines, and good jazz. Ron is survived by his wife, Susan; mother, Mae Zemke of Sterling, IL; brother, Douglas (Ellen) of Decatur, IL; sister, Marcia VanDeVelde (Dale) of Washington, WV; brother, Jon (Anita) of Mokena, IL, and 13 nephews and nieces and many others who loved him very much. Memorial service Friday, Aug. 20, 1 PM at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, W. 50th St. & Knox Ave S., Mpls. Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church West, Victoria, MN. Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel 952-920-3996

Published on August 17, 2004


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