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Content Guy's Note:  Willard R. Bishop - 'Bill' to the countless  industry people who knew him and his work in the supermarket business - passed away Friday.  He was 80.

I asked Michael Sansolo, who knew Bill far better than I did, to offer some thoughts about his life and work.

Bill Bishop, whose research projects and leadership were part of the supermarket industry for five decades, most recently was the creator and “chief architect" of Brick Meets Click, a web service aimed at helping the industry understand, discuss and cope with the changes and challenges of web-based shopping.  It only was a month ago that he stepped away from his regular activities; a quick look at the hundreds of messages on his Linked In page following the announcement last month of his retirement and illness speaks volumes about the depth and breadth of Bill’s impact and connections through the years.

I first learned of Bill in 1983 while attending my first Food Marketing Institute (FMI) annual convention (then the industry’s most important event), where Bill was a key presenter in multiple sessions I attended. His insights were that broad and his knowledge was incredible.

Later in my career I oversaw all research and education at FMI, a very similar position to the one Bill held with the Super Market Institute (SMI), FMI’s predecessor, in the 1970s. And still later in my career I became research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils for supermarkets and then convenience stores, in both cases faced with the daunting task of succeeding Bill.

Anyone who worked with Bill, as I was fortunate to do repeatedly, quickly saw how incredibly knowledgeable he was about an enormous range of issues, but more importantly how passionately and diligently he approached all his projects. I was proud to have him as a mentor and prouder still that I had the chance to follow in his footsteps.

But what’s possibly most impressive and insightful about Bill was how, at age 70, he launched an entirely new project - Brick Meets Click - with his usual foresight on an issue that would rapidly become so central to all forms of retail. Despite some health problems in recent years, he continued to work with the energy well beyond what anyone would expect from a 30-year-old, no less a man of 80 years.

Once again, a role model for all of us.  I'll miss him.

Information about services and memorials for Bill along with connections to his family can be found here.