FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Marine industry veteran Kaye Pearson, who founded Show Management and for years ran some of the largest boat shows in the country, died of cancer at his Ft. Lauderdale home on March 21, 2009, according to an obituary in the Florida Sun-Sentinel. He was 68.
Show Management has dedicated this week’s Palm Beach International Boat Show to Pearson’s memory.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Pearson was born July 22, 1940, in Terre Haute, Ind., to Earl and Triva Pearson. When he was a toddler, his parents relocated to Florida, the state where he would make his most indelible mark on the marine industry.
After earning a business degree from the University of Miami, Pearson moved to Ft. Lauderdale, where an entrepreneurial spirit led him to start Pearson Potter Yacht Basin in 1971. Five years later, Pearson founded Show Management, the promotion company that operated the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show, the Palm Beach Boat Show and the St. Petersburg Boat Show, among other shows and special events.
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was already 17 years old when Pearson’s company was founded, but at the time it consisted of about 20 boats in the water, 30 booths on the adjoining street and another 20 land exhibits, according to materials from Show Management. Today, the company says the show spans six locations in Fort Lauderdale, covers approximately three million square feet, and includes 1,500 exhibitors and more than 1,600 boats.
By the time Pearson sold Show Management in 2006, the company was producing eight boat shows and a host of shows in other industries. After selling the busy company, Pearson told Boating Industry he wasn’t ready to slow down, and he remained closely involved with the business.
Pearson’s other successes included winning several fishing tournaments aboard his boat, “Showpiece,” as well as being named Ft. Lauderdale Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1999, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Summing up his legacy in 2006 to Boating Industry, Pearson said, “If anything, I think my legacy is that I’ve contributed an opportunity for the entire industry to come together and sell their product and be successful. Certainly, we shared in that success along with them.”
He is survived by his wife, Cheri Pearson, daughter Jennifer Moore, brother Jerry Pearson, sister Janet Powell and a granddaughter.
There will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. April 4 at Bahia Mar Hotel & Yachting Center in Ft. Lauderdale. Memorial contributions may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, the IGFA or the Human Society of Broward County.
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