When I first took over as editor of DigitalSignageToday.com back in 2010, the outgoing editor gave me a list of people I needed to make time to talk to about the industry as I learned the ropes of my new beat. I was a newspaper guy transitioning to digital media and into the world of digital signage after a brief stint as the editor of Digital Signage Today’s sister publication, Kioskmarketplace.com, and at that point I barely knew what digital signage was, much less had any idea of the scope of the entire industry.
The name at the very top of that list was Lyle Bunn, and that first call I made to him to introduce myself and to develop a background understanding of the digital signage industry was the first of many long talks I had with Lyle over the years. We continued that friendship in my current role as director of the Interactive Customer Experience Association, and he helped me clarify my own thinking on the need for the digital signage industry to evolve as part of the full spectrum of customer experience technology. We’d lost track of each other a bit in the last year or so, though, so I was shocked and saddened to learn of his recent passing due to complications from cancer. He was 63.
I’ve been reading over the outpouring of tributes to Lyle that have been posted on various sites and on social media since news broke of his death, and it’s all been a wonderful and well-deserved testimonial to a man who befriended so many and influenced an entire industry.
I remember meeting Lyle for the first of many times at one of the circuit of tradeshows that became something like working reunions for many of us in the industry who over time became more friends than industry contacts. The first time at any of these shows can be an overwhelming experience, walking into a huge show floor filled from wall to wall with bright lights and big technology. Not just for me, but for many of us, Lyle was the first to extend a welcoming hand and to help make sense of it all. He was a mentor to so many, but more, most of us also came to consider him a friend.
I say this in only the most positive light: Lyle was an amazing promoter, of himself and of an entire industry, and it was always, somehow, carried off in the most humble, ingratiating way possible. He knew everything and everyone, and what and whom he didn’t know he wasn’t abashed to ask and befriend.
He was also an amazing connector. There was never an event where Lyle didn’t introduce me to someone I should know, or at which I didn’t see him doing the same for many others. He never became jaded to the circus; instead he seemed to draw joy from it all, joy he shared and spread. Even when we were discussing something ridiculous or the ways the industry could sometimes get in its own way, he never seemed negative about it, but rather energized by what we could do to help straighten it out. Then he’d be first in line to hop on the mechanical bull. (No, seriously. One of my lasting memories was seeing Lyle hesitate not even a whit before riding — trying to ride — a mechanical bull we had set up at one of our awards parties during the ICX Summit. He seemed to take joy from everything around him. I tried to learn that from him too — with, as usual, varying amounts of success.)
Even more than that, though, I enjoyed the times we’d sit around over a cup of coffee and talk about the importance of family and the bigger things in life beyond the work. I’ll miss those chats.
I edited more Lyle Bunn articles for Digital Signage Today than I care to count; they were one of the many ways Lyle helped me learn what I needed to know to get a grasp on the digital signage and dynamic media space. They were unfailingly erudite and expansive, much like Lyle himself. He was a storehouse of knowledge about the media industry in general, and with regards to what we called dynamic place-based media or digital signage his acumen and scope of knowledge was unparalleled.
So the industry has lost a leading light, but for most of us I suspect we’re just going to miss that cherubic smile and firm handshake and infectious laugh. As cliché as it might sound, it’s fitting to say nonetheless: Lyle was definitely one of a kind. He will be missed.
A memorial service to celebrate Lyle will be held Oct. 20 at the Brighton Fellowship Christian Reform Church in Brighton, Ontario, Canada. His family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent in his name to the Canadian Cancer Society or to the American Cancer Society.
Photo Credit: Christopher Hall
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