Industry Forefather, Hallmark’s Keith Wheal, Sadly Departs This World

A true gent with a passion for greeting cards and love of life, Keith Wheal, the head honcho of Hallmark Cards UK for many years, has sadly passed away.

Having joined the company as a salesman in 1958 as one the publisher’s first UK employees, Keith rose through the ranks to become managing director of Hallmark UK in 1970.

It was while he was at the helm that Hallmark UK, which was based in Henley on Thames at the time, was proclaimed as one of 100 best companies to work for in the UK, praised for its personal development programme, working atmosphere and common sense of direction.

Keith went on to become md of Hallmark Europe, a position he held until his retirement in 1990.

Above: Keith Wheal went on from being managing director of Hallmark UK in 1970 to becoming md of Hallmark Europe until he retired in 1990.
Above: Keith Wheal went on from being managing director of Hallmark UK in 1970 to becoming md of Hallmark Europe until he retired in 1990.

Harry Birtley, who worked with and for Keith for 20 years, and followed him as managing director of Hallmark UK and marketing director of Europe described him as a “demanding boss but thoughtful, caring and approachable. It was a privilege to work with and for him.”

According to his son Rob, while his father was very proud of his greeting card industry achievements, he also greatly enjoyed his retirement. Sadly though he had been suffering poor health for the last couple of years.

Steve Wright, international ceo of Hallmark said: “We are sad to hear of the loss of such a well-regarded member of the Hallmark family. Our condolences go out to Keith’s loved ones at this sad time.”

Top: Keith Wheal, the former md of Hallmark UK in his happy retirement days.

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