MARIAN TRIPP, 82
Top promoter of food industry
By Barbara Sherlock
Tribune staff reporter
January 14, 2004
People tantalized by the educational seminars arranged by food public relations expert Marian Tripp owe some gratitude to the advice dispensed years ago by her older sister, Flo.
"My mother wanted to do straight journalism when she first went to college," said her son, Brendan. "Her big sister told her she ought to take home economics as a backup because those days it was difficult for a woman to find a job in journalism."
From that wisdom, Mrs. Tripp carved out a career as a nationally recognized and respected marketing expert, providing major companies in the food and beverage industry, and the media that covered them, with innovative conferences, meetings and events.
Mrs. Tripp, 82, president and founder for 18 years of the former Chicago communications company that bore her name, died of complications from diabetes Monday, Jan. 12, in her Chicago home.
Kraft General Foods, Uncle Ben's Rice, the Pillsbury Co.'s baking contests and the Food Marketing Institute's annual convention were among her clients.
After graduating from Iowa State University in 1944 with a double major in journalism and home economics, she worked at a St. Paul newspaper, then was hired by Swift Co. to head its food publicity department.
She stayed at Swift for a number of years before joining the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York. While in New York, she met her husband, James, who was studying to be an Episcopalian minister and had been in public relations.
After their marriage, the couple moved to Chicago where she continued to work for the agency and her husband became pastor of Church of Our Savior. Her husband died in 1959, and, with her two young sons, Mrs. Tripp returned to New York. About 10 years later, she moved back to Chicago.
She had risen to the position of vice president when she left the company in 1975 to open her food public relations agency.
"Food publicity was very much her passion," said her son, who became a vice president of her agency.
The agency became known for the seminars she organized with cooking experts, scientists and college professors as speakers.
Speakers included Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck and Faith Popcorn.
Katherine Smith, her friend and former Quaker Oats vice president, said the respect Mrs. Tripp received was well-earned.
"Her programs were innovative and exciting, so food editors wanted to come," Smith said. "She was always very contemporary with her speakers and topics. She was an absolutely outstanding person with impeccable taste and connections who knew how to put on an exquisite event."
She was a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the American Institute of Wine & Food.
She was honored in 2002 by Les Dames d'Escoffier and numerous times by the Food Marketing Institute.
Mrs. Tripp is also survived by another son, Kevin, and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Friday in Church of Our Savior, 530 W. Fullerton Pkwy., Chicago.
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