William T. "Bill" Bisson Jr., former publisher of Pensions & Investments, died Jan. 17.
Mr. Bisson, 70, retired from Crain Communications Inc., parent of P&I, in 2009 after 33 years with the company. He is remembered as a creative man with an eye for changes in the industry as well as a passionate defender of the integrity of his employees and publications.
He started with P&I as a district sales manager in 1976, became sales director in 1982 and took on the publisher's title in 1984. In 2006, he became group publisher, financial publications for Crain Communications.
Known for keeping a close eye on the investment market and having an innate sense for what could find a new readership, Crain launched several publications under Mr. Bisson's leadership, including InvestmentNews.
And he was a staunch protector of editorial integrity. "Bill Bisson was a friend, mentor and boss who was an ardent steward of the best interests of the P&I reader," said Chris J. Battaglia, who succeeded Mr. Bisson as P&I's publisher in 2006.
"His leadership qualities made everyone in the organization feel proud to be associated with a quality publication that was fully dedicated to helping inform the asset management industry and fulfill the information needs of pension funds and other institutional investors," said Mr. Battaglia, who also holds the title of vice president/group publisher.
"Over the 45 years of publishing, P&I has only had a handful of editors and publishers who have led the publication. Bisson's passion for the publication and people in our business never waned and he was always pushing us to find ways to better serve their needs. I will always be grateful to Bill for establishing a culture of excellence which still exists today at P&I, largely due to his philosophy and efforts."
That defense of editorial integrity often was directed at his staff, as well.
"My favorite Bisson story is about that separation" of advertising and editorial departments, former editor Nancy K. Webman said in an email. "A P&I reporter in the Chicago office went ... to hail a cab to attend a financial analysts' lunch. (He) noticed a P&I ad salesman was also trying to get a cab. They spoke and found out they were going to the same luncheon, so they shared a cab, but sat at different tables during the event.
"Bisson somehow found out about the cab ride and they, I and who knows who else got yelled at for violating the Chinese wall rule. Bill would do virtually anything to maintain the journalistic integrity of Pensions & Investments."
Ms. Webman added: "Never had I had a publisher who so vigorously and rigorously tried to ensure that there was a Chinese wall."
"Bill was an inveterate name dropper," she wrote. "Yet he was in awe when we met with Trammell Crow, the legendary Dallas developer. They shook hands and as he later walked out of the meeting, Bill vowed he would never wash the hand that shook Crow's. I don't know if he honored that vow."
Mike Clowes, former P&I editorial director, described Mr. Bisson as "the dream publisher for an editor to work with. At a time when many publishers would sell their souls, and their editorial content, to get a page of advertising, Bill staunchly defended editorial independence and integrity. He believed quality editorial published without fear or favor would draw quality advertising. He was right.
"Bill also was creative. He developed the idea for InvestmentNews, a news publication for financial planners and investment advisers. He also came up with ideas for special editorial features in Pensions & Investments.
"As a result of the editorial integrity Bill fostered, Pensions & Investments became the bible of the institutional investment industry and highly profitable," Mr. Clowes said in an email.
Rance Crain, former president of Crain Communications, said: "Bill Bisson was always an enthusiastic champion of his people and the publications he oversaw. He did a superb job of steering Pensions & Investments to ever-increasing success, and he was the charter publisher of InvestmentNews, which was a natural spinoff of P&I. I will be forever grateful to Bill for the substantial contribution he made to our company over the years he was with us."
Mr. Bisson is survived by his daughter, Lindsay; son, Robert; and sister, Catherine Davis.
A remembrance of his life will be held Jan. 26 from 2-4 p.m. at Spear Miller Funeral Home in Fairfield, Conn.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.