The Legacy of of Al Van Maren CME

Al Van Maren, CME was President of Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) from 1999-2000 and also served in other volunteer positions for many years leading up to his senior position on the board. He passed away at his home in Harvard IL, July 13, 2021.

[Featured Image Caption: L-R: Al Van Maren, Bill Davis, Mickey Mouse, Caran Shaffer, Willis Turner on the occasion of the announcement of Annual Convention to be held in Orlando, September 2001]

Al served as President of the SMEI chapter in Chicago and helped organize an SMEI annual convention hosted in the city. Al went on to serve as the Chairman of the SMEI Academy of Achievement – Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame and the SME Foundation for Marketing Education.

Al Van Maren
L-R: Al Van Maren, Willis Turner, Wendy McDonald, Lance Ross at the 2001 SMEI Academy of Achievement, Oklahoma City

I first met Al when he was installed as the 62nd President of SMEI at the organization’s annual convention in Altanta Georgia in September 1999. I also became a Vice President on the board of SMEI and served under his leadership. In February 2000 the organization faced a financial crisis and under Al’s direction a new strategy was formed and the board sought new leadership for the executive branch. Al encouraged me to consider the position of Executive Director. I stepped off out of the volunteer role on the board and submitted a proposal to manage the association under contract. The proposal was accepted and Al signed the Agreement. 

Al’s steady hand and outstanding leadership can certainly be credited for a critically pivotal moment in the organization’s history and his legacy will long be remembered in orchestrating a succesful turnaround.

Al was an exemplary leader and cared deeply about the organization and the mission of raising and setting standards of professionalism for sales and marketing. He traveled to SMEI events long after his leadership role ended, lending his support to the cause and those leading the organization.

In 2015 he traveled to Ohio and brought former Chairman Walter Marzinke to help honor the life of a Jack Criswell, Chairman Emeritus, and in February of 2020 he traveled with Connie to Hattiesburg, MS to help honor the life of Melissa Medley, former Chair of SMEI.

Al Van Maren
L-R: Al Van Maren, Melissa Medley (Past Chair), Bill Davis (Past Chair), Karen Davis, Claudia Bowers (Past Chair), Walt Marzinke (Past Chair) Susan Warren (Past Director) at Funeral for Jack Criswell (Chairman Emeritus, in framed photo)

Al’s kindness and care for others will always be remembered. He will be missed very much by all who knew him. On behalf of SMEI and our Board of Directors, I express our sincere condolences to Connie, Kathleen, Todd, Ryan, Sheri and Thomas. 

A networking event has been scheduled for August 13, 2021 in Chicago for those who knew Al and any sales and marketing professionals who would like to join. Click here for details about the event and information about the memorial service planned for August 14, 2021.

Contributions can be made in Al’s memory to the SME Foundation for Marketing Education Scholarship Fund.