Obituary | Licensing International’s Bill Burke, 55

The long time licensing industry executive and SVP Marketing and Communications for Licensing International, Bill Burke, passed away suddenly at his home on August 9th, at the age of 55.

Prior to joining Licensing International, Bill was SVP Marketing for CBS Consumer Products, where he led Global Marketing (including Retail), International Licensing, and Licensing Operations for iconic brands like Star Trek. Before that, he held senior positions with HIT Entertainment, Sesame Workshop and Foot Locker.

“Bill was already a beloved and admired person within the industry when he joined the Licensing International team in February,” said Maura Regan, president of Licensing International.

“In his brief period with us, and for those who hadn’t the pleasure of working with him previously, he quickly became a friend, creative spark and trusted sounding board for everyone on staff. It’s a measure of the man that he particularly enjoyed mentoring our interns, making sure that they got as much out of us as we got out of them.

“We will miss him personally and professionally.”

Bill is survived by his wife Patty, daughter Erin and son Ryan. Visitation and funeral arrangements are to be announced shortly.

Kelvyn Gardner | Global licensing community pays tribute to industry’s ‘brightest star and biggest heart’

Tributes have been paid en masse from across the industry to ‘one of licensing’s brightest stars and biggest hearts’, Kelvyn Gardner, who very sadly died unexpectedly yesterday morning (January 26).

As the tragic news broke throughout the evening, members from across the global licensing community were moved to share condolences and memories of the greatly respected and much-loved ‘king of licensing’ who died of a heart attack this week.

The founder of Asgard Media and the long-time managing director of Licensing International UK, as well as an active member of the Light Fund committee, Kelvyn will be remembered as a source of inspiration, friendship, and support to many across the industry.

Kelvyn’s wife, Michelle, alongside his daughter Regan and son Eliot shared the news yesterday evening. Michelle also posted a message to the social media platform, LinkedIn to relay the news to the extensive community of friends and colleagues that Kelvyn had built around him over his lifetime in licensing.

“It was almost instant, he had tingling pains in his arms and felt a slight pain in his chest,” she posted. “I was getting dressed to take him to emergency as I wasn’t happy with what was going on, when he fell back and started not breathing properly. I called 999 and was on the phone while doing heart massage (cpr).

“The ambulance took only ten minutes to arrive, where they worked on Kelvyn for about an hour. Although they were extremely kind, saying they were taking him into MK Hospital where the resuscitation team was waiting, myself, Regan & Eliot (his children) knew that he had passed away.

“As I am typing this I just cannot tell you how we feel we are at a loss… It was Kelvyn’s 66th birthday on the 22nd of January 2021 and was going to be our big wedding anniversary 40 years… we had joked that he wouldn’t know one end of a ruby if it bit him, so I think I might have got some ruby coloured Warrington gear!

“Please feel free to get in touch, as Covid is so crap you know that funerals are 30 people, so in time we think a memorial service in its stead (Covid notwithstanding) – Michelle Gardner.”

Michelle’s message and the sudden shock of the news has prompted a mass outpouring from an industry enchanted by a man for whom licensing and the people within it was a way of life. 

In the tributes that continue to be paid to him, Kelvyn has been remembered as the “brightest star and biggest heart in the licensing industry” as well as a ‘familiar and friendly face of the licensing industry; a genuine man who always had time for a chat. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.’

From the early days in the licensed collectables space with Merlin through his career with Licensing International UK and in the latter years with Asgard Media (his own award-winning business that he maintained throughout) as well as his Living with Licensing Podcast, Kelvyn had been the voice of the industry.

A friend to all in the business, Kelvyn has always been a constant source of support and inspiration to us at; our conversations always characterised by laughter, his sharing of great insight and depth of knowledge, and is ability to ever be forward-looking.

A true embodiment of the licensing community he helped create, Kelvyn will be deeply missed by all within it.

Kelvyn’s family have requested that no flowers are sent, but anyone who would like to get in touch can do so by writing to Pendragon House, Wicken Rd, Deanshanger, Milton Keynes, MK19 6JR.

Michelle, Regan, and Eliot are to advise on which charity they would like people to donate to in Kelvyn’s honour.