Eulogy by Charlie Wilton
May 15, 2018
Dear friends and family,
As you know we closed the Sklar Wilton offices today. The entire team as well as some former associates are here to pay tribute to Luke. We are wearing these Purple ribbons, one of his favourite colours, in his memory.
While we can’t begin to imagine how you are feeling, know that all of us at Sklar Wilton see you as part of our extended family, and as family we offer our most deepest condolences and sympathy for your great loss. Luke valued family above all and his chest would swell with pride every time he recounted moments with each of you – the wonderful Sklar women that were his pride and joy.
This past weekend was filled with mixed emotions which I struggle to put into words.
As you know, we reached out to Luke’s network with this news and have received hundreds of notes, emails, text and voice messages all expressing love, admiration, shock, sadness, and sympathy to us and to you his family. Luke was not just admired and respected he was loved.
It was a real privilege for me personally to have spent the better part of my business life with Luke. We met in 1978 at General Foods both fresh out of University as new Marketing recruits. It was clear even then that Luke was special, one of a kind.
Luke left General Foods and went on to have a successful career in Advertising at Carter Grey, but his entrepreneurial spirit yearned for more. So, in 1986 he started this business in the basement of your home. Sadly, he had many skeptics saying that he would always be a one man band and facing the reality that 95% of small businesses fail by year 5.
Fast forward, 32 years and just under 40 people later he has certainly proved those sceptics wrong. He founded a company that has grown and prospered on a simple premise of helping others succeed. We all share in his pride that over the years some of Canada’s most iconic and trusted brands have entrusted us to help them with their most important marketing and business decisions.
But his bigger legacy is in doing it the right way and creating an amazing place to work for all our associates, a place where you could learn, grow and have fun. And beyond our employees, he spent much time personally helping to mentor and coach the marketing and business people behind those iconic brands. His brilliance and advice made such a difference to so many.
I personally have many wonderful memories that I’d love to share with each of you one day. As you well know being in Luke’s life was sometimes like living in a Seinfeld episode. He had such a way of lighting up a room and making people laugh but there would also be twists and turns which could throw you for a loop. Each day with Luke was a new adventure. It was fun and exciting.
As his business partner for close to 30 years, we shared the highs and lows together, and always shared a passion for helping others and making a real difference for our talented team and our valued clients.
What’s truly remarkable is how very different Luke and I were, and yet in ways that really matter – at the core- we were so much alike. Like yin and yang, we uniquely complemented each other strengths. His youthful energy, passion, humour, and intoxicating charisma were a good complement to my calm, even keeled demeanour, and wisdom.
Many compared us to Star Wars – Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Different but both looking to defeat the dark forces that sometimes exist in the business world. We created a quirky little company, following a simple recipe of doing great work and helping others. We continued to believe we would beat the odds of success.
As business grew, Luke always believed “more smart people thrown at a problem” was key, and so we built out our partner team to include Jennifer Marley, Sarah Liverance, and Manoj Raheja. I want to acknowledge and thank these wonderful partners. I so truly appreciate how they have helped shoulder the burden of responsibility and honour Luke’s dream to foster a unique culture build a great team and run a successful business. We are quite simply “better together.”
Beyond the business, Luke’s many talents were formally recognized two years ago when he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of legends, the highest recognition in the Canadian Marketing field for his lifelong contributions. While not surprising, we were all so proud and happy for him. He was so deserving of this recognition.
But none of what he accomplished could have happened without a great team. Luke cared deeply about the Sklar Wilton team. He worked tirelessly to encourage, motivate, inspire, and support everyone do their very best work. He set high standards for himself and expected it of others. Our team is here today to pay their respects not only to a great leader who has made us better, but also a wonderful man and a very dear friend.
My last communication with Luke was via email last week after he had sent me a note about an article I might be interested in. I replied and said I was looking forward to seeing him soon when he was back at home. He responded simply “Thank You”. Those were his last words to me.
What’s remarkable is that the depression which robbed him of his zest, his passion, and his wonderful humour didn’t affect his deeply held values or the essence of who he really was. He cared enough to thank me in his deepest darkest days. He really truly cared.
And it’s for that very reason that I wanted to share this with you and to let you know personally what an honour, privilege and priceless gift, it is to have known Luke and worked side by side with such a talented, gifted and above all a genuinely caring man.
I’d like to close by simply saying Thank You Luke. We are all better for having known you. We miss you deeply.
Be at peace dear friend.