In Memoriam: Jerry Fine, Founder Of Neil Enterprises, Inc.

Jill Rahn's picture
Gerald L. Fine, of Northbrook, Illinois and Rancho Mirage, California, passed away on July 5, 2011 at the age of 85. Jerry was a kind and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was also an astute businessman who, 50 years ago, founded Neil Enterprises, Inc. and guided it to become the largest photo novelty company in the country. A marketing and merchandising expert and innovator, Jerry pioneered a myriad of photo-related promotional products, including the photo mug and photo keychain. He had a vision, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a generosity that always put people over profits.

His dedication and determination helped grow the company into the success it is today. The company is now in its third generation with Jerry’s children and grandchildren working there, including Neil Fine, the current president.

Jerry Fine was born on December 28, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Hyde Park High School and joined the Navy where he was stationed at Pearl Harbor during World War II. He returned to Chicago after the war and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier and received his degree in accounting at Northwestern University. In 1947, he met the love of his life, Lois Berman, at the Merchandise Mart where he worked at his uncle’s liquor store and she at her aunts’ lingerie shop. Together, they lived a charmed life, enjoyed a loving, 62-year-marriage, raised a beautiful family, and created a thriving business. He is survived by his wife Lois; his three children, Carol (Robert Jacobson), Andrea (Eric London), and Neil Fine (Karen); his nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In my work in the photographic trade and consumer press over the years it always had been a pleasure to deal with Jerry Fine and his family, and he will be missed. We at Shutterbug offer our sincere condolences to his family and many friends.—George Schaub

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crazymeme's picture
Jerry Fine

Thank you for providing this great and interesting article! As a photographer I am aware of how important was Jerry Fine in this field as he created on of the most important photo novelty companies in the world. He was very appreciated and loved and when he died there were many people who accompanied him on his last journey at the Quincy funeral home.