June 10, 2012

Wichita advertising legend Marge Setter dies at 87

Marjorie Ilene “Marge” Setter was never at a loss for friends.

Marjorie Ilene “Marge” Setter was never at a loss for friends.

For more than five decades, Ms. Setter was an iconic figure in Wichita’s advertising and public relations field and often a larger-than-life character known for her volunteer work in several of the city’s civic and cultural institutions.

She died Thursday after a long illness. She was 87.

Rosary service will be at 9:30 a.m. with funeral Mass to follow at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Church of the Magdalene Catholic Church, 12626 E. 21st St.

Ms. Setter was born July 24, 1924, in Ellsworth. As a teen, she moved with her family to Manhattan. She was a 1942 graduate of Manhattan High School, and a 1948 graduate of Kansas State College in Manhattan. Her bachelor’s degree was in industrial journalism/public relations.

During World War II, Ms. Setter served as a corporal in the Women’s Army Corps Air Transport Command.

After the war, she began a career that included work at the Manhattan Mercury Chronicle and the Wichita Eagle-Beacon newspapers on their advertising staffs; an assistant advertising manager at Buck’s Department Store in Wichita; a senior copywriter and editor at Marshall Field and Co. in Chicago; advertising director of Meis Department Stores in Illinois; and president of Setter & Associates, an advertising and public relations firm, which she founded in 1969 and ran until 1991, when the company was merged with Stephan Advertising Agency. Her clients included Beech Aircraft, Walnut Valley Bank and Trust in El Dorado, and Henry’s.

When Bob Hope came to Wichita in 1968, Marge Setter met the famed comedian at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and traveled with him by parade route in an open convertible to the Wichita State University Roundhouse, where he performed..

Setter then hosted a news conference for Hope. After they were through, Hope then asked Setter if there was anything more he could do.

Setter, who recounted the story for The Eagle in 2003, reportedly told him: “ ‘Yeah, please walk a little slower because all my friends have not seen us together’ He laughed and told her “I like you, kid.”

“She was full of life. She was fun and fair,” said her nephew Greg Setter. “She was a great mentor and was pretty much known by everyone.”

Ms. Setter is a previous board member of the Kansas Gas and Electric Company.

She was a past president of the Wichita Symphony Society and the Orpheum Theatre; was director of the Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Kansas Council on Economic Education, the Wichita Area Girl Scouts Council, the Wichita Public Library Board and the Kansas State University Alumni Association; was public relations chairman for the YWCA and the American Red Cross-Sedgwick County Chapter; and was also a past president of the Kansas Press Women, Advertising Club of Wichita and Women in Communications.

In 1996, Ms. Setter was named a woman of distinction by Soroptimist International of Wichita in recognition of her business and charitable activities.

And, in 2005, she received the Library Advocate of the Year award at the Humanitarian Awards Dinner, sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice.

“She was a huge proponent for Wichita,” Greg Setter said.

Ms. Setter is survived by a brother and brother-in-law, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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