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Leo Shapiro

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Leo Shapiro Obituary
A true legend in the field of market research, Leo Shapiro was a social scientist, innovator, iconoclast, storyteller, and grandfather whose work helped hundreds of companies, investors, and entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. When he died, at the age of 94, he was likely the oldest currently living survivor of polio. Born in the Bronx and educated at the University of Chicago, Shapiro pioneered a behavioral approach to market research that probed the psychological and evolutionary underpinnings of human habits and behavior. During World War II, he conducted research for the U.S. government - including pioneering work on measuring the employment rate and developing the data collection system to support the wartime rationing. Afterwards, he founded the Chicago-based market-research firm, Leo J. Shapiro & Associates. Leo was an iconic force in the Chicago business community for more than fifty years. The public knew Leo best as "Father Christmas," for his annual appearances on the local and national news during the holiday season. But leaders of businesses and organizations throughout the country knew him as an innovative researcher who had an uncanny knack for identifying trends and predicting the future. His counter-intuitive insights were often surprising, and inevitably correct. Jewel Foods, Staples, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart, Petsmart, Kimberly Clark, and many other companies relied on Leo's research to help them develop products and make key decisions. He helped develop such household items as the disposable diaper and electric toothbrush, and was instrumental in developing the concept of "big box" retailing. Leo was also known for his quick wit, droll sense of humor, and endless supply of inspired stories and anecdotes, as well as his teacher's gift for making complex information seem deceptively simple. He was an endlessly curious student of human nature, and through his work he believed that he could use rigorous research to reveal the truth, and help make the future a little less mysterious. Now, he is part of that mystery. A tremendous friend and mentor to many, as well as a devoted father and grandfather, Leo Shapiro is survived by his wife, Ginny, his children-David, Erik, Owen (Lum), Amy (Bob) -and five grandchildren (Madeline, Calvin, Julius, Richard and Rockwell). A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m., at University of Chicago Bond Chapel.
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication from May 28 to May 29, 2016
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