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Memorial service set for Donna Myers 

Noted as a pioneer in the grilling and PR fields

Donna Holcomb Myers, 72, died Friday, Jan. 7 of Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease at her home in Holmdel, N.J. A memorial service will be held at noon Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, 112 Middletown Road, Holmdel, N.J., for Myers, a former grill columnist for Casual Living and one of the world's leading experts on the barbecue industry.

Born in Minot, N.D., Myers graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in home economics. She lived in Ohio and Queens, N.Y., before moving to Holmdel.

She was a pioneer for women in the field of food, wine and spirits public relations and marketing communications. Myers worked at Theodore L. Sills, Inc., later acquired by Burson-Marsteller, the nation's largest public relations agency, where she was tapped to handle the company's biggest account, Burger King.

In 1979, she opened her own agency, Myers CommuniCounsel (later called DHM Group), serving such clients as Quaker, AT&T, Gerber, Tropicana, P&G, Hershey, Chiquita Brands, Bigelow Tea and Pommery Champagne, as well as many trade associations including the National Dairy Board, Pork Producers Council and Pickle

Packers International. One of her longest client relationships was with the Barbecue Industry Association, which later became part of the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association. She also provided marketing communications services for numerous individual manufacturers of barbecue grills and accessories.

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Myers was widely recognized as an authority on barbecuing and grilling, at one time having more than 30 grills in her backyard. She advised manufacturers, contributed to numerous cookbooks, judged cookoffs worldwide, and was frequently quoted by the national media as an expert on the subject. She truly loved and was passionate about the barbecue industry and was generous in sharing her expertise. Her final project, and one of her proudest achievements, was helping to develop and shepherd the "Big Green Egg Cookbook" from inception through production.

"Donna's magnificent media skills helped bring our company to the attention of the barbecue world," said Ed Fisher, chairman of the Big Green Egg. "She was a master of her craft. We were fortunate to partner with Donna in our early days, and her marketing expertise was a very important factor in the growth of our company. We remember and miss her, not only for her abilities, but for her dedication to her work and her devotion to those of us who knew her."

Many in the industry, from retailers, to manufacturers large and small, to inventors hoping to break into the industry with a brand new product, praised Donna for her willingness to share her time, expertise and advice.

"I will always be grateful to Donna for her dedication to the barbecue industry," said Mike Kempster, executive vice president and CMO, Weber-Stephen Products. "Her energy and commitment were instrumental in forming an association that has benefited all manufacturers. Over the years Donna dedicated much of

her time helping consumers become better outdoor grillers. The rich barbecue culture that exists today in the USA is her living legacy. I am blessed to have known her and I am thankful for the legacy she has left us."

Myers began writing monthly grilling columns for Casual Living in 2007 to provide advice to retailers and manufacturers. One important Northeastern retailer responded early in 2009 that he had not seen a more pragmatic and sensible analysis of what grill manufacturers should be considering for future production. Myers' final column was publiched in Casual Living's September issue with a note that she had retired and closed her office due to illness.

In addition to her impact on the barbecue industry, Myers left a rich legacy in the public relations field. She generously mentored and nurtured countless young professionals, tirelessly teaching, guiding, counseling and helping to further the careers of many. She was awarded a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. She was named N.J. Woman Business Owner of the Year in 2000, and National Woman Business Owner of the Year in 2001 from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Myers served on the Board of Trustees for Gerber Life Insurance Company for 27 years, was a member of the Women Presidents Organization, Home Economists in Business, International Association of Cooking Professionals, and the National Association of Women Business Owners, for which she served as president and

public policy advocate of the New Jersey chapter.

She was predeceased by her parents, Gladys and Kenneth Holcomb. She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Charles L. Myers, her son and daughter-in-law Chip and Kim, and her greatest joy, grandson, Dylan Myers, all of Holmdel.

Donations for the advancement of Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease research may be made in memory of Donna Holcomb Myers to NPDPSC, 2085 Adelbert Road, Room 419, Cleveland, OH 44106-4907. Messages of condolence may be sent to the Myers family at charley_56@live.com.

Myers' passion, determination, work ethic, dynamic personality and caring heart touched all who knew her. She will be deeply missed.

 

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