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Trade Show Pioneer Marty Dwyer Passes Away at 88


Chicago, IL – Marty Dwyer, whose show management firm Martin C. Dwyer, Inc. organized and launched industrial trade shows starting in the 1950s, died September 16 at the age of 88.

A wake will be held Friday evening, September 18 at Grein Funeral Directors in Chicago followed by funeral services Saturday, September 19 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Benedicts Catholic Church, 2215 W. Irving Park Road, in Chicago.

Dwyer’s company was acquired by Reed Exhibitions. More details on Dwyer and his accomplishments will be published in the days ahead.

Dwyer’s daughter, Pat Dwyer, is a senior executive at SmithBucklin & Associates and the current chair of the Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO).

Included below is a tribute to Marty written yesterday by Meg Ellacott, which we are publishing in its entirety.

Reach Meg Ellacott, MATSO managing director, at (302) 260-9487 or


My Tribute to Marty Dwyer, A Trade Show Pioneer

“Having just heard the news, I felt compelled to write an open letter to our trade show publications.  Today we lost a pioneer and a grand forefather to the trade show industry.  Martin (Marty) Dwyer paved the way for us all over 50 years ago when he managed many of the largest trade shows that are still in existence today.   Marty passed away at age 88 today, September 16, 2009, and is survived by his wife Gail (another trade show pioneer) and his legacy to the trade show industry, Pat Dwyer.  Pat still manages some very large shows in the country today and works for SmithBucklin, Chicago, IL.  She is also the Chairperson to the Major American Trade Show Organizers (MATSO).


“Marty, we will miss you.  Many of you who will read this are too young to know or even comprehend what it must have been like to organize and run trade shows in the 1950s and 1960s.  Imagine a trade show world without general contractors (back then they were just forming and getting their equipment from World War II inventory), without photographers, before florists, pre-AV vendors, pre-faxes and they hand-typed badges.  Imagine NO technology.  Back then, they really did do it with blood, sweat, tears, incredible imagination and a willingness to take big risks to bring buyers and sellers together. And no draftsmen, let alone floor plan technology.  They did it all by hand with architects’ rulers – and imagine what it took working with unions in those days – talk about the wild, wild West!


“And I was lucky enough to know Marty since his daughter is not only a great friend but my mentor in the trade show world.  I was lucky enough to have sat by his side as he regaled us with stories of the ‘golden era’ of putting a show together in Vegas when the Las Vegas Convention Center was brand new, McCormick was half the size it is today and Freeman and United Expositions (now GES) were the (main) contractors in existence.  You had to be a pretty tough cookie and very smart to get the job done back in the day.  Marty, we will miss you.

“And so I say this to the Dwyer family and to the trade show industry at large:  While many of you didn’t know him, know that we lost an icon to trade shows today; a shining star who paved the way for all of us who make our living and are lucky enough to work in show biz.  I’m very sad for the family but oh, SO proud to have known you Marty Dwyer.”

Submitted with gratitude and in honor of Marty Dwyer,
Meg Ellacott

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