William Reilly, 70, founder of Summit Business Media L.L.C., the parent company of National Underwriter Life & Health, died Friday after a year-long battle with cancer.
Reilly may be best known for using backing from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, New York, to turn Primedia Inc. into a $1.7 billion media giant in just 10 years.
After leaving Primedia in 1999, Reilly acquired F&W Publishing, Cincinnati, a consumer magazine and education company, then sold the company in 2005.
In 2006, Reilly became chairman and chief executive officer of Summit Business Media, New York.
With backing from Wind Point Partners, Chicago, Reilly’s company acquired Highline Media L.L.C., New York, the owner of National Underwriter, and Pfingsten Publishing L.L.C., Seven Hills, Ohio. Summit Business Media later acquired Judy Diamond Associates, Agent Media, Wicks Business Media, AUS Online and Wiesner Financial Media.
Reilly stepped back from day-to-day operations in 2007, when his cancer was diagnosed. Andrew Goodenough was named president in 2007 and CEO this year.
Goodenough says he and other executives at Summit Business Media worked closely with Reilly to set up the company.
“While we were awed at first by his past accomplishments, he quickly put us at ease,” Goodenough says. “We got to know him as much more than just one of the most successful media executives of all time–he was a Renaissance man, a student of history, books, art–a generous man–and an all-around great guy.”