Hecht Remembered at Celebration in N.Y.

Industry leaders turn out for ad industry trailblazer
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Several hundred people gathered in New York Tuesday evening to celebrate the life of Curt Hecht, chief revenue officer of The Weather Co. and a pioneer in bringing data and programmatic technology to the advertising business.

Hecht died earlier this month of lung cancer, a disease he kept secret from all except a small circle of colleagues, friends and family. He was 47 years old.

The event was held at Cipriani in midtown because Hecht’s wife proposed to him over bellinis at Cipriani downtown.

Speakers included Hecht’s agency colleagues including Renetta McCann of Leo Burnett, Jack Klues of VivaKi and Starcom MediaVest Group and Tracey Scheppach of SMG (she served as chief motivation officer for Team Hecht as he battled his disease). Also speaking were people from digital media Hecht did business with, including Tim Armstrong of AOL, Carolyn Everson of Facebook and Neal Mohan and Bonita Stewart of Google. David Kenny, CEO of The Weather Company spoke, as did one of his cycling buddies and his best friend.

The most impressive speaker was the eldest of Hecht’s two daughters, who was composed and eloquent beyond her 13 years. Finally, his wife Dorothy spoke, apologizing for keeping Hecht’s illness and secret and graciously thanking everyone for attending and urging them to try to be “half as strong” as Hecht had been fighting cancer.

The speakers talked about Hecht’s contributions to their careers and businesses. His fearless optimism. His comfort on the cutting edge. His calmness in meetings. His stubbornness. The way he made what he did seem easy—even when it wasn’t. His colorful socks and the carrots he ate so many of that his fingers turned orange. How he took his bike everywhere, but as hard as he worked and played he looked forward to nothing as much as getting home to his family.

Kenny talked about Hecht’s generosity, his gratitude and his loyalty. There were 12 people at the memorial who had been fired by Hecht. But Hecht delivered the tough news humanely, explained the decision, and helped them land on their feet again, he said.

Schappach talked about how Hecht got himself into a phase 1 clinical trial of new therapies. As he did in business, he would pursue the latest in science and technology, test it and learn from it. “He fought to make a difference in the world of cancer.”

Kenny said that near the end, Hecht was OK with death. He didn’t want to die, but he was satisfied with what he had done with his life at 47—he got married, had kids, surrounded himself with the best people and changed the industry he worked in. His big regret, Kenny said, was that he wouldn’t get to watch his two girls grow up.

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