According to many who knew him, Al Bothwell was one of a kind. You either loved him or you put up with him, because he was so bright and creative, gave good direction, had an incredible work ethic, and was really funny.
Al passed away at home in St. Helena with his wife Martha at his side on Thursday, March 29, just 3 months shy of his 74th Birthday and 20 days shy of his 43rd Wedding Anniversary. Al was born in Gary, Indiana, on June 29, 1938. He started working early in life, first as a paper boy, then as a gas station service attendant. These endeavors earned him enough money to put him through Purdue University. Al graduated from Purdue in 1961 with a degree in Pharmacy, and he began his career as a pharmacist back in Gary at Belles Drugstore. There, he worked his way up to store manager. After 5 years, however, Al left the pharmacy business, saying that he saw "too many sick people."
Al moved to Chicago to further his education and pursue a career in marketing. His chosen field was advertising. Al held management positions in the client service/marketing departments of several ad agencies, most notably, J Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett and Y&R. Then, in 1983, with some guidance from Y&R, Al started his own company, The Bothwell Associates, Ltd., a marketing consultancy specializing in product positioning. His only "employee" was his wife and business partner, Martha. When asked why the company was named THE Bothwell Associates, Al replied, "It's to differentiate us from all those other Bothwell Associates."
After enduring too many winters in Chicago, Al and Martha decided to build a vacation home in Sedona, Arizona. A few years later, in 1992, they moved themselves and The Bothwell Associates to their vacation home. While in Sedona, Al and Martha made several trips to the San Francisco Bay area, and they both fell in love with the Napa Valley. So, in 1999, they moved to the Napa Valley, first to a renovated home in Deer Park where they stayed while their new home in St. Helena was being built. Al's creative influence was evident in the designs of both the Deer Park and St. Helena homes. Finally, after 2 ½ years of construction, Al and Martha moved into their St. Helena "dream" home.
The Bothwell Associates had a very successful 25 years, thanks to clients who listened to Al's advice and had the courage to implement his recommendations. Briggs & Stratton, a client with whom The Bothwell Associates had a 20-plus-year relationship, credits Al with initiating and interpreting large scale consumer research that led to a better understanding of the outdoor power equipment market for Briggs & Stratton and their customers, both manufacturers and merchandisers. This led, in turn, to an increased focus on growth and profitability for the entire industry. Al was called, in addition to "one of a kind," a pioneer, a mentor, "my coach,""my rock."
Rest assured though, Al was not an "all work, no play" kind of guy. He was an extraordinary baseball player in his youth, and an avid runner and tennis player for most of his adult life. In fact, he ran or played tennis almost every day until he had a hip replaced in 2008. Good food, fine wine and reading the New York Times were his other passions, and he happily partook daily.
Al is survived by his wife, Martha Evans Bothwell, his sister, Terry Bothwell and her husband, Rob Davidson, and nieces Skye Davidson Wallace and Tess Davidson Henney. As Al wished, the family recently held a private celebration of his life. Should you want to remember Al, please consider a donation to Napa Valley Hospice and Adult Day Services, 414 South Jefferson Street, Napa, CA, 94559.