Services held for Ken Kolker
August 16, 2013-- Home Textiles Today,
New York - Services were held here this morning for Kenneth Kolker, the longtime May Co. senior executive who also served as friend, confidant and mentor to several generations of retail leaders over his long life.
Kolker was 89 and passed away after a short illness on Tuesday.
He spent the bulk of his career at the former May Department Stores where he eventually became president of May Merchandising and chairman of the May International divisions, serving as the number two person in the company behind ceo David Farrell.
He is credited with helping to develop the May strategy of a strong promotional stance balanced with key item merchandising and a focus on both opening price point and better tiering.
Prior to that he spent many years at Abraham & Straus, the now defunct New York department stores where he was part of the legendary training program that produced many of the executives who have run America's retail stores over the past 30 years. He eventually rose to executive vice president of merchandising there and that is where he forged many of the relationships that endured throughout the rest of his career.
Among those generally cited as being mentored by Kolker are Allen Questrom, Michael Steinberg and Michael Gould.
Kolker retired in 2005 with the Macy's purchase of May but continued as an informal advisor to the company.
He was also a lover of the arts and sports and would avidly attend film festivals.
His obituary notice in the New York Times captured the Ken Kolker that many in trade knew very well. "Ken just made you feel good to be with him and a great friend to all! He was above all a kind, caring, generous and humble man. Ken will be missed by all!"
The notice did not mention survivors and added that donations could be made to the 92nd Street Y Jazz Program in New York City.
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