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An homage to Manfred Werfel: ‘We just lost a true friend’

WAN-IFRA lost a big part of its family this week when Manfred Werfel, the association’s former Deputy CEO and Director of the World Printers Forum, passed away. He was 68. Industry friends and colleagues pay homage to Manfred in this article, and you have a chance to do so as well.

By Dean Roper

Manfred is survived by his wife, Silvia, and their two sons, Felix and Fabian.

“Manfred embodied the spirit of our association: insatiable curiosity, a keen sense of service to members, listening, professionalism and rigour. His empathy for people, his generosity, and his good humour enabled him to overcome all challenges. Manfred was and will remain a model for all of us,” said Vincent Peyrègne, WAN-IFRA CEO.

“Manfred was a legend at WAN-IFRA,” said Thomas Jacob, WAN-IFRA COO. “As a professional with deep knowledge, he was respected and admired by the print fraternity around the world. He was an inspiration to his colleagues with his calm demeanour and sense of humour. I had the privilege and honour of working closely with Manfred over several years. He was a pillar of support and strength while steering the organisation out of the many crises. We have lost a true friend.”

“He was a reference and a model of professionalism for those of us who wanted to learn and grow in this exciting job,” said Fernando De Yarza López-Madrazo, WAN-IFRA President and President of Henneo media group in Spain. “Manfred will always be in our memory and in a privileged place in the history of this wonderful journey that is WAN-IFRA.”

At the Gutenberg University in Mainz, Manfred actually studied and graduated with the idea of becoming a teacher. That education would later serve him well in guiding newspaper professionals all over the world about the ins and outs of newspaper production.

Manfred started his professional career at Linotype in 1984, cultivating his knowledge of the graphics and news industries for 12 years. He joined then-IFRA in 1996 as Research Manager, working for print production guru Boris Fuchs, the Research Director and Deputy CEO at that time. After Boris retired in 1999, Manfred took over as Research Director and it didn’t take long for him to carve out his own legendary status within the industry. And just like Boris, his wisdom and knowledge spanned broader than just print production.

He would go on to champion newspapers, quality printing and production in numerous ways: like taking the International Color Quality Club competition truly global, or speaking and moderating at numerous events, or consulting and helping printing operations all over the world.

But his role expanded in 2009 when he was named Interim Deputy CEO, a role that would stick until his retirement in 2019. In between, he took on such critical roles as Executive Director of Global Events, responsible for managing the World Publishing Expo and World News Media Congress. All the while, launching the World Printers Forum and establishing its board, as well as producing numerous research reports – often on his own.

He did all of that with his constant sense of purpose in serving WAN-IFRA members – and always with his trademark sense of professionalism and humour.

“I first met Manfred Werfel in person in June 1997 when I started working for him on the ICQC samples in Darmstadt,” said Ingi Olafsson, Manfred’s successor (and recommendation) as Director of the World Printers Forum. “There and then we formed a friendship that lasted to this day. Through the years he was an inspiration and wealth of knowledge. His legacy is renowned in the newspaper production area. Always professional but humorous and good-natured at the same time. I will miss him very much. My deepest condolences to Silvia and his sons Felix and Fabian.”

Pay homage to Manfred

The outpouring of condolences and tributes from the industry and WAN-IFRA family speaks to how respected and beloved he was. We have set up a page for those who would like to pay homage to Manfred here, and the complete list of those is here. Here are some who have done so:

“This is very sad news. Manfred was a wise and kind leader, a true gentleman who knew everything and everyone in our industry. It is not possible to understand WAN-IFRA without Manfred. We will miss him greatly.”

– Max Garrido, World Printers Forum Board Chairman and Managing Director of Corporacion Bermont in Spain.

“Manfred was a committed, thoughtful colleague. We have lost a true friend.”

– Michael Golden, former WAN-IFRA President and Vice Chairman of The New York Times Company

“Really sad to hear about the passing of Manfred. He was a wonderful human being who had a professional approach in every aspect; a dear friend to many of us who have spent so much quality time with him for nearly two decades. Manfred has visited our home in Kerala, India. May the wonderful soul rest in eternal peace.”

– Jacob Mathew, former WAN-IFRA President and Executive Editor and Publisher of the Malayala Manorama Group in India

“Manfred was an essential part of our history, and helped decisively the industry and all it represents. His contribution will never be forgotten by us. May he rest in peace.”

– Marcelo Rech, President of ANJ (Brazilian Newspaper Association) and former President of the World Editors Forum

“Manfred was always extremely loyal and professional. May the Gods guard him and his loved ones.”

– Lars Munch, WAN-IFRA Honorary Board Member and Chairman of the Board, JP/Politikens Hus in Denmark

“So sad to hear this. Manfred was a great person and very strong professional. RIP Manfred.”

– Paul Verwilt, WAN-IFRA Executive & Supervisory Board Treasurer and COO of Mediahuis in Belgium

“I have lost a good friend. He was a thorough professional. Extremely sad to hear this news. Please pass on my condolences to the bereaved family. RIP Manfred.”

– DD Purkayastha, WAN-IFRA Honorary Board Member and Managing Director & CEO of ABP in India

“I’m sorry to hear this sad news. It was a privilege and honour to know and work with Manfred. May he rest in peace and condolences to his family.”

– Mujo Selimović, World Printers Forum Board member and Publisher of Oslobodjenje in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Manfred properly belongs to decades of WAN-IFRA history as an internationally recognised high-class expert and widely known industry executive. It’s really a big loss for the WAN-IFRA community. Sincere condolences to his family. RIP, Manfred.”

– Eugene Abov, WAN-IFRA Supervisory Board member and Vice President of the Gild of Press Publishers (GIPP) in Russia

“My good friend is gone. WAN-IFRA has missed a gem. May his soul rest in perfect peace.”

– Nii-Laryea Sowah, Under Secretary of the Private Newspaper Association in Ghana
www.wan-ifra.org

 

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