Messages of Condolence from Friends and Colleagues

In the days following Luke’s passing, we received hundreds of messages from friends and colleagues around the world whose lives were touched by Luke. The memories and stories in these notes comfort and inspire us, and in sharing a few of them here, we hope you too will feel that same comfort.

“Team assembled. Clients arrive. Weeks/months of diligent preparation and teamwork. Luke enters. Pleasantries exchanged.  Smiles. Luke puts his watch on the table. Time. Data, analysis, questions, answers. Nervousness, excitement, passion. Luke puts his hand on his forehead. Removes glasses. Anticipation. Luke reveals. Insights distilled into a sentence maybe words. Magic. Silence. Inspiration. Luke puts his watch and glasses back on. Smiles. Satisfaction. Clients leave having questions, answers, and confidence required. Luke Sklar, Marketing Legend, insight master, mentor to many, friend to all.”

“Like so many of Luke’s emails and interactions, he made the other person feel special and appreciated. I can’t think of another person in my life that has had that impact on me. When Luke believed in you, you felt it. He was contagious to be around because he made other people feel more positively about themselves than they otherwise would. He took an active role in my development and his positive energy and encouragement set my career on the path that it is on today. In a professional setting so few people are truly themselves, however, Luke was. He talked at length about his family, how he felt, how important they were to him and how proud he was. I had a great conversation with him about his own Dad and I vividly remember how he described him and that he thought about him every day. I haven’t had that type of personal conversation with a colleague since.”

“I had so much respect for him. He was foundational in my professional development and taught me my best values as a business person. His voice often speaks to me as I make decisions and myself WWLD (what would Luke do?). He drove us all to be better and to work harder and for that I will always be grateful. His mark on the research industry has been recognized – thank goodness – by awarding him the Marketing Hall of Legends, but his mark – that he left on us all is indelible and change-making beyond what he probably even dreams. He was so important in the development of so many people.”

“We’ll remember him as the driving force behind our evolution into a compelling brand. As an icon in the industry that, as you noted, built a company on doing things the right way with partnership, integrity and influence. Personally, I will remember him as an irresistible force of positivity and creativity, as one of the most bright and insight people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. And for the tremendous energy he provided me with every time I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time with him. Luke was a provider of energy, not a taker, there are few people like that in this world and even fewer in business.”

“I remember the charismatic, enthusiastic, and brilliant version of Luke. At least once in every meeting – always on his feet with his hands in the air – he would implore his clients to identify and rally around their brand’s ‘wow’!”

luke offsite

“I remember going through the preparation of an event and me, as always, being late with building the presentation, Luke was very serious about it and I ended up one night receiving a very long email that was the entire flow of our speech. Once again, he made me look good… The story of his life, making others look good.”

“You are very fortunate that he created and sustained a wonderful legacy in Sklar Wilton – a workplace with deeply-rooted human values; a company uniquely respected in the market research industry; a team that stands up to the bar that Luke set; and a team that is trusted with some of the most important and strategic advice for very large companies with business affecting millions of people. I want you all to know how much I valued and loved Luke as an advisor, a friend, and a mentor.”

“I always admired Luke and will look fondly on my interactions with him. Funny how I often share the story of you and Luke taking time to meet with me while I was transitioning jobs. You didn’t need to… but you did. You took time out of your hectic schedules to meet with me. You shared thoughts on the industry. Gave me advice and pointed me towards some businesses and contacts that might be a good fit. I don’t forget his wisdom and support.”

“Countless are my memories of his hilariousness, laughter, energy, and brilliance, and I know how fortunate I am to have them in my life toolbox. A friendship with Luke is one that truly alters one’s life course and builds character simply by being with him.”

“Luke has been of enormous personal and professional support to me and everybody here. He guided me and our team from start to finish. He built the marketing plan and the brand for us from the start and he sat with me for over an hour helping me/us to decide whether we should sell the business and join another one. He did so at a time that was very challenging for him but he did it elegantly and with great insights all the way to the end. He is so loved, admired, and respected by me and our team.”

“I have very fond memories of Luke during my early years in marketing – where I was like a deer in the headlights! He guided me and believed in me when I was feeling less than secure! He didn’t need to be so supportive those early years – but he was and got me on my way to believing in myself. He was a wonderful human being and I remember the sheer delight he expressed when speaking of his family, his girls. His energy and passion were contagious and came right from the heart.”

luke and minnie

“He had an incredible business mind and even a bigger heart. Always had time to coach & mentor and was a cheerleader for all.” 

“Luke was one of a kind…truly inspirational and someone who cared so very deeply about the people and things that mattered to him. I had the good fortune of knowing Luke for 24 years and every interaction I had with him left me energized and motivated. He gave so much of himself to those around him and we all benefitted greatly. I have a silly memory of him literally crawling across your boardroom table to make me smile in a meeting once…so Luke. I know he loved his SW&A family dearly. I know he was proud of the great things you are all doing.”

“I did want you guys to know that he loved all of you. When he spoke about you, he glowed with pride and affection. He felt blessed to have a professional life surrounded with people like you. He was never shy about expressing these praises about all of you to me.”

“I called Luke my Hero Warrior. He was the most courageous person I know. He fought so long and so hard. He was my coach and mentor, as he was to so many. With laser focus he pinpointed strengths, encouraged and inspired me and instilled confidence. He was my dear friend. He cared about me, my family, and everyone in our company. The first thing he wanted to know was how we were all doing. He was the proudest, loudest, most enthusiastic husband and father.”

“Luke was incredibly influential in my professional development, his famous words of being ten steps ahead, and you are only as good as your last meeting have been emblazoned in my brain. He presence was always immediately felt when he entered a room. He was energetic, quick on his fee, and so smart.”

“Luke was always so nice to me and very respectful of me as a collaborator. There was just one thing we disagreed on. He wouldn’t take my (expert!) recommendation to get his painful hip replaced because he said he was too young. I reminded him that I was younger than him. He doubled down, “but I’m too young!” He always had such an enthusiastic and energetic approach to things, it was likely a very real affront to him that his hip was putting him into a 55+ cohort instead of the 19 to 34 group where he knew he fit. I also remember one specific occasion when I came to SW&A to debrief a study. Luke never sat down once, pacing around the room, jumping in with ideas, enthusiastically praising good work, and saying over and over again, “Clarity! You know them, they need clarity!” I will never forget it! Years later when I’m faced with clients’ cloudy thinking, or a bad brief, or my own not-perfectly-clear though, I still see Luke.”

“I will be endlessly grateful for the encouragement and support Luke Sklar gave so freely to me as a young woman in in a big job. Encouraging me to use humour and grace and confidently put ideas forward. “Don’t let those grey haired men get you down” he once said after a particularly challenging meeting.”

“He was a wonderful human being and I was struck by his warmth, energy, and wit on the couple of occasions that we spoke by phone. I recall hanging up the phone and thinking that I hoped I would have the opportunity to work with him one day. What a privilege it must have been to know and work with him each day, all these years. I was always struck by what a unique and special environment he and your leadership team had cultivated at Sklar. That will be part of his legacy.” 

“Luke could help you solve any problem simply by asking really great, thoughtful questions. I met with him several months ago and in one hour he didn’t give me much advice at all, but he asked the greatest, smartest questions that helped me give myself advice. He did this so many times for me over the years. It is one skill he leaves us all with, the ability to be the best in the world at asking great questions that will lead you to helping others with anything.”

“He and I only worked directly together a few times, but each time it was something to look forward to and like I feel I always came away smarter. His insight, vitality, and clarity of thought always struck me and made him such an engaging character to be around.” 

“I remember Luke as a man with such incredible loyalty, trust, and respect with the most senior of client executives in Canadian industry. His presence, while not audacious, was powerful in his intelligence and insights.”

“Luke was always such a pleasure to speak to and had wonderful insights about retail marketing. He sent lovely Christmas cards too.”

“He was truly an inspirational leader who touched many. His guidance was pivotal in the projects I had the pleasure of working with him on.”

“On one visit to your office I had the occasion to meet him and he was very friendly and knew a great deal about both the work that we were doing with your team and a little about me as well. It was evident how proud he was of the organization he was so instrumental in building.”