In Memoriam: Muriel Wieber

Feb 27, 2013

Editor’s note: Muriel Wieber, age 87, passed away peacefully February 25. The letter below comes from NBM’s founder and CEO, Bob Wieber. NBM, National Business Media, is the parent company of THE SHOP magazine and NBM Events.

In the early days of NBM it was just me and a desk.

Then it was me and a desk and Mom.

As life sometimes steps in and changes our plans, my son, Matt, was born the same week that NBM was born, and he was two months early. Most of my time for those next two months was spent at the hospital.

Then it was Mom and a desk. And, occasionally, me.

Like most mothers, Mom was sure her son was a genius, so she graciously worked through the daily mountain of tasks I left for her while I went off to the hospital. Many times she would lock the door of our small office and spend the day working there by herself. It’s hard to imagine that now, but if there was no Mom during the early days of NBM, there would be no NBM. Before fax machines, before cell phones, before the Internet, before the technology that we now almost take for granted, there was Mom, typing away and answering the telephone.

With a unique optimism, Mom always accepted the next challenge. As we slowly grew, Mom took delight in making a contribution toward making something that she felt was becoming special, and it seemed that she counted every single step forward as a personal affirmation that all of her hard work had actually meant something. “Go talk to Mom” had affection AND significance, and Mom lit up when someone needed her. Around our office, “Mom” had earned the favor and respect of everyone, and not just because she wrote out their paychecks.

Too many times I was focused on my self-absorbed entrepreneurial ideas and I was generally lousy at giving her the time and attention she deserved. More than once she would announce herself into my office and emphatically let me know that she had questions and I needed to “just slow down” long enough to give her an answer. (One of her common phrases – “One quick thing. …I have a question.” – became part of our personal lives even years later. I think she taught my wife, Brenda, the secret.)

Mom and Dad grew up in depression-era Brooklyn with a unique perspective on all types of people and all types of businesses. Their imperfect marriage lasted 58 years and they raised eight imperfect kids. (You might know some of us, so that “imperfect” piece will make sense.) During that time, Dad had several small businesses, planting a huge seed of influence in my young mind while getting Mom ready to work with a full-speed-ahead son who hadn’t yet learned the importance of aiming before firing. Mom, undaunted, still encouraged me anyway, as she savored each little victory. She often underestimated her enormous influence and business value, commenting that with her limited business experience she didn’t think she had much to give. I will tell you this: She just gave herself. She gave and gave and gave and gave. And when there was nothing left to give, she gave some more. She defined unselfish, and I hope at least a little bit of it has rubbed off on me and my kids.

After Dad passed, I had one simple rule and all in my family knew I meant it: “If Mom wants it, Mom gets it.” It was her turn.

My personal memories are far too vast and too personal to share in this small space, but for those who are touched by any of our publications, trade shows or anything we do at NBM, please know this: Mom’s beliefs, her quiet strength, her faith, her humility, her honor, her work ethic, her intelligence, her judgment, her grace and her genuine determination to help others are all the underpinnings of what we stand for at NBM. If you know NBM, you know Mom.

At various company functions through the years we would stop and honor Mom as “NBM’s first employee.” Even though she was naturally shy, she loved that recognition. Watching her blow kisses to our NBM family is one of my favorite memories. But Mom was so much more than “NBM’s first employee.” When she decided to retire to spend more time with Dad, I didn’t want her to go.

I didn’t want her to go now.

Bob Wieber
National Business Media Inc.