Remembering a Legend
Past ASAE and Association Forum Chair Roderick L. Geer, CAE, passed away peacefully on Jan. 20 at the age of 92 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He had a long-tenured career, with his most recent association CEO position at the Million Dollar Round Table in Chicago from 1971–1991. He was also President of the Chicago Society of Association Executives (CSAE), now Association Forum, in 1981–82.
Geer was an inspiration to many in the association management world, maybe none more so than Chris Mahaffey, MS, CAE, FASAE, Executive Director, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Mahaffey considered Geer his “mentor and second father.”
“I first met Rod Geer in 1980 when he was on the Search Committee that hired me as the CSAE Executive Director, and he became my second boss as Board Chair in 1981,” Mahaffey says. “Right out of the box, his professional guidance was amazing. I’d never experienced such support before.”
Known in the industry as dedicated and selfless, Geer won several awards for his work in association management. In 1983, he won the Association Forum John C. Thiel Distinguished Service Award. The honor is bestowed on unsung heroes in the field—behind-the-scenes volunteers who have a long-term, multifaceted volunteer record with the Association Forum.
Geer was also known for his expertise in the field, providing advice to those who sought it out. “He was the consummate association executive: positive, confident and supportive,” Mahaffey says.
He was also a passionate Cubs fan; he had season tickets and always took colleagues to games. “He would invite two other CSAE’ers and myself to the games. We became known as the Wrigley Spirits,” Mahaffey jokes. Celebrations wouldn’t end with the last pitch, however, as he would always head to his favorite bar, Bierstube on Irving Park, for a few after-innings drinks.
But most importantly, Geer will always be remembered as influential to all he spent time with. “He mentored dozens of young executives, me included. Like Rod, I know they are all paying it forward to their own mentees,” Mahaffey says. “He was the consummate role model for young association CEOs.”