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Bruce Alpert, 1952-2011

We received sad news late Friday that Bruce Alpert, one of the original members of the TWICE staff back in 1986, passed away suddenly in his home here in Manhattan.

Bruce, who eventually became associate publisher of TWICE, left the publication a few years ago due to health issues. He is survived by his mother, Selma Alpert, and his sister, Karen Singer. There is no word yet on funeral arrangements or a memorial.

Bruce was a longtime advertising salesperson and publishing executive here in New York who worked mostly on retail-oriented publications. I probably knew him longer than anyone — since the early 1980s. In publishing, you meet plenty of characters. I have met my share. But I can honestly say that Bruce was one of a kind.

Oh, was he ever.

Competitive, hardworking, manic (especially around CES) and loud — you knew he was in the office, believe me, and whether he was having a good or bad day.

And if you ever heard Bruce laugh, you’d never forget it.

Sometimes he wasn’t the easiest guy to deal with. It seemed around the time we closed big issues for major shows like CES — or Toy Fair, when I first met him in the early 1980s at the departed Toy & Hobby World — he stretched deadlines to the limit for his advertisers, to the angst of the production and editorial departments involved.

Back in the days we worked on that toy magazine, I remember Bruce and I had a heated … discussion about the separation of advertising and editorial. He never held a grudge about that disagreement and neither did I, and a mutual respect for each other’s talents seemed to bloom from there.

Bruce was highly creative and as he got more experienced, he worked at getting to know a publication’s audience — both its advertisers and its readers. He was fiercely loyal to his clients and appreciated the contributions of his co-workers.

As our founding editor Bob Gerson noted in an email to our publisher Marcia Grand, “He earned a lot of respect in the industry for his work ethic.”

Bruce loved to talk politics — state, local or federal. He also loved to travel — whether it was to visit his clients in the Midwest, the South or on the West Coast — and he usually knew the best restaurants and hotels to visit. And Bruce loved to travel on cruises on vacation, to where we heard about all the planning and then all about what happened during the cruise when he returned.

Bruce also became a long-distance runner. Again, Bob Gerson remembered in his email, “Do you remember when I ran his picture in TWICE when he ran the New York Marathon? I guess it’s fitting in a way that he passed as the race was about to be held.”

Bruce often reminded me that he worked at Home Furnishings Daily (now HFN) before I did, as a salesperson on the housewares section. When I left Toy& Hobby World to join Home Furnishings Daily on its consumer electronics section, he would call occasionally to see how I was doing.

When I became editor of the section, Bruce was really interested since at that point he had joined the original staff of TWICE, and HFN was its leading competitor.

I’ll always be indebted to Bruce because in the early 1990s the management of Cahners Publishing, later renamed Reed Business Information, wanted to bring in an editor to work with Bob Gerson, who was becoming editor in chief. Bruce kept on saying, “Call Steve Smith.” Eventually someone listened, I got a call, and the rest is history.

Bruce had a varied publishing career with two stays at TWICE. He left TWICE and worked on Cahners’ Furniture Today and Home Textiles Today weekly newspapers, where his drive, creativity and insights into marketing benefitted both publications. Bruce was also a publishing executive with Dealerscope for a time, but he eventually came back to TWICE and spent the rest of his career with us.

Marcia contacted a few of his industry friends when she heard the news and received several emails. Jeannette Howe, executive director of Specialty Electronics Nationwide, wrote, “It is indeed a very sad day. He was a great guy. I can hear his cackling laugh and can see the smile on his face.”

And James Dardashti, COO/general counsel of Atlantic, commented: “He was a very special person. He had the ability to connect with people at a certain level that I have not experienced often. Very entertaining, genuine … I know he is in a better place right now. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”