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Longtime Catalog Consultant Maxwell Sroge Dies at 76

Maxwell Sroge, who spent four decades in catalog and direct mail marketing, died Nov. 3 at Evanston (IL) Hospital. The World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy was 76.

The New York City native's work included developing business and marketing plans for clients ranging from Fortune 500 giants to family businesses.

In 1966 he formed Maxwell Sroge Co. in Chicago, a mail-order consultancy. During the 1970s it grew to become the 10th-largest ad agency in Chicago with more than 70 staff and freelance employees. Clients included Gulf Oil, DeLuxe Check Printers and JC Penney.

He developed two industry newsletters, Non-Store Marketing Report and Catalog Marketer — which later became the Catalog-and-Web Marketer — and conducted more than 100 industry-related seminars.

When Sears, Roebuck closed its catalog business in 1992, Sroge worked with a client, DMSI, to develop licensed catalogs for Sears covering home fashion. The program for Sears was expanded to cover Damark, Bank One and other clients.

Sroge continued to work despite being frequently hospitalized in the past three years by complications related to diabetes. He recently began talks with a client regarding business development in China.

“He was always a little bit ahead of his time in his thinking in trying to come up with new ideas for clients to use direct marketing,” said Susan Kryl, who worked for Sroge from 1967 to 1981 as vice president/media director. “He was always talking about the new media before it was used in the business. In the late 1970s he always used to talk about how cable TV could be used for direct marketing.”

He is survived by his wife, Ann; four children, Sarah Sroge, Roberta Nelson and twin sons, David and Marc Sroge; five grandchildren, Julia Nelson, Eric Nelson, Laine Sroge, Colin Sroge and James Sroge; and a sister, Susan Johnson.

Memorial contributions can be made in his name to Temple Beth Israel, Skokie, IL.

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