Willard R. Bishop passed away peacefully March 25, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. He was born September 9, 1941, in Orange, NJ to Willard and Virginia Bishop.
Bill is survived by his wife of 58 years, Catherine; children, Cindy (Joe) Christian of Tucson, AZ, Steve (Anila) Bishop of Scottsdale, AZ, and David (Julia) Bishop of Barrington, IL; grandchildren, Anna and Sean Christian, and Grace and Emma Bishop; and brothers, Richard Bishop of Portland, OR, and Philip (Sheryl) Bishop, of Kinnelon, NJ. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Bill grew up in South Orange, NJ, graduated from Columbia High School in 1959, and completed his undergrad studies at the University of Maine – Orono where he met Cathy who graduated Class of 1965. Bill and Cathy were married over winter break in Jan 1964. Bill earned an MS in Agricultural Economics in 1965 from the University of Maine – Orono and a PhD from Cornell University in 1968. Then he entered the Army, rising to the rank of Captain, and served as assistant to General Bunker in the Pentagon’s office of the Army Materiel Command.
In 1970, Bill and family moved to the Chicago area where Bill worked as VP of Research at the Supermarket Institute (now known as FMI – The Food Industry Association) for 6 years. In 1971, Bill and Cathy purchased their first house in Barrington, IL. and called the community home for more than 50 years.
Bill started Willard Bishop Consulting (WBC) in 1976, where he focused on a wide variety of projects spanning grocery retail formats, pricing, activity-based costing and much more. In the early years, the business operated out of the back of the family home. As the business grew, Bill and Cathy moved the office to 840 S Northwest Hwy in Barrington. They operated WBC for 37 years and employed over 150 different people during that time. Bill was very proud that for many, the time they spent at WBC launched them to further professional success both as entrepreneurs and in other organizations. Bill and Cathy sold the business in 2008 and Bill continued as Chairman until 2011.
In 2011, Bill co-founded Brick Meets Click (BMC) with his son Steve – an analytics and strategic insight firm that focuses on helping the grocery industry navigate the impact of digital technology and eCommerce. Bill served as BMC’s Chief Architect, and the family business grew as his son, David and daughter, Cindy joined the team. Only recently did significant health challenges finally prevent him from being his typical hyper-productive self and force him to retire. Bill truly loved his work and valued his friendships with individuals across in the grocery industry.
Bill’s other notable professional accomplishments include helping to create two Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils – one focused on grocery and the other on convenience retail; teaching Marketing Channels at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University MBA program; serving as a Board member for Raley’s Fine Foods and The Food Institute; and last but not least, in September 2020, he was inducted into PLMA’s Private Label Hall of Fame.
Bill was always incredibly generous with his time both personally and professionally. He was happy to lend an ear and offer thoughts on how to move forward or see things from a different perspective. He also prioritized engaging with people and organizations where he saw an opportunity to make a difference – whether it be participating in many church activities, coordinating weekly neighborhood food drives for the local food pantry, or writing letters to politicians and companies, including several of the airlines who shall not be named here, about what they could do better.
In his free time, Bill enjoyed taking family trips to destinations near and far, spending time at the lake house in NJ which has been in the family for three generations, tending to his vegetable garden, doting on the family dogs, perfecting his strategies for winning at the card game whist, and getting to watch his four grandchildren grow up into young adults.
A private Celebration of Life service is being planned for mid-May in Barrington.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to: F.I.S.H. Food Pantry, Carpentersville, www.fish-food-pantry.org