In Memoriam: Barry Rackover, 66

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Barry RackoverBarry Rackover, a longtime live event professional who recently retired from PRG, died on March 25, 2013. He was 66. He provided lighting and production support for rock concerts and other live events around the world during his long career. But it was with the corporate event market where he made his mark.

“The sudden passing of Barry brings sadness to all who worked with him and knew him,” says Patrick Stansfield of Stansfield & Associates. “He was a client of mine on many projects, and I was lucky to call him a friend as well. He was a talented visionary who really opened up the auto show market and set the bar on how those events could and should be. He will be missed.”

Rackover grew up in Philadelphia, and served as a Signalman, Second Class in the Navy during the Vietnam War. After his service of four years, he lived in Los Angeles where he was an electrical contractor for The Obie Company, a lighting and power supply company whose clients included big rock and roll acts. Kent Black, a production manager who has known Rackover since the early 1980s, says the company was tipped off that there might be some work in the auto show business. “In 1983 they took 48 PAR cans and a lousy 80 feet of truss to the Detroit Auto Show, and that was the only lighting in the air for the entire show!” Black laughs. “Now there’s like 10,000 lights and miles of truss in the air for those events.”

As The Obie Company expanded into the corporate world, they tapped Rackover to spearhead the effort. “He was a great salesman – unbelievably good at talking to anybody, especially the ‘suits,’” Black says. In 1997 he would head a Detroit office for Obie and was wildly successful. Obie would later merge with Canadian-based Westsun International, which was then acquired by another company and lost their footing. Rackover simply reached out to PRG, who quickly took up his proposal and made him vice president of their Detroit office. He then continued to grow and dominate that market in addition to serving other corporate clients. Late last year he developed some health issues, and retired in January.

“He was one of those guys who was tough and had high standards, but treated everyone well, and really took care of his crews,” says Black who worked with him on many auto shows. “He always looked out for me, and I am grateful for that.”

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Elizabeth; and his daughters Fannie Margaret, 24, and Vivian Martha, 23. For those wishing to make a donation in his memory, the family suggests Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Pennsylvania: