Carol L. Christison, longtime president of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) and one of the most beloved leaders in the dairy, deli and bakery business, died on March 4, 2014.

Voni Woods, 2013 IDDBA Board Chairman and Sr. Director of Deli at Giant Eagle Supermarkets, praised Christison with a stirring introduction at last year’s annual IDDBA meeting. "You are a leader and visionary and disciplined strategic thinker. You are amazingly perceptive about people and talent. You are a woman to reckon with in the industry of leaders, and you do it with such grace and confidence…always with that humor of yours which is scaring me because I get it. You have been a mentor and role model and such an inspiration to many, including me. I am grateful to know you, thankful that the Lord has watched over you and look forward to your next 30 years."

"We will most assuredly miss her professionalism and her friendship," echoed William Klump, current Chairman of the Board and Sr. VP of Marketing at Butterball. In a previous letter to the Board, Klump had stated, "We are grateful for all that Carol has accomplished in her thirty years of service. She has been a key factor in the growth and success of the association. Carol has been at the center of the IDDBA’s transformation into a leading organization, benefitting the whole industry."

In December 1982, Christison replaced retiring International Cheese & Deli Association Executive Director, Willard T. Reese at the Madison, WI based organization, and over the next 31 years built the association into the leading organization in the industry. The association later became known as the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association.

Carol had left an executive position with The American College of Sports Medicine to avoid relocating her family and quickly embraced the vision of the Association—which is to be the essential resource for relevant information and services which add value to all food channels for the dairy, deli, and bakery categories.

"Back in the 80s, Carol Christison added a real spark to the association including our annual business meetings in Door County where a mixture of business and fun was the order of the day," added a former Board Chairman. Starting with only a part-time bookkeeper, the organization has grown to a staff of nearly 30 employees; from 100 corporate members to 1,500, and from less than 1,000 attendees to nearly 9,000 at the Annual Seminar & Expo.

Having served on industry committees including Random-Weight UPC and Traceability, these voluntary roles were true testaments to Carol's dedication and commitment to retailers, distributors, brokers, manufacturers and others who share a common purpose to better the industry.

Carol Christison expanded and changed the organizational structure to meet new demands and opportunities and to be more self-sufficient. She was also well-known for her creativity, her annual industry trends presentation, and her abilities in creating a top-notch program for the annual seminar. She was also responsible for writing key promotional pieces and leading the annual research study.

Lucie Arendt, Senior Vice-President and one of the first employees of the IDDBA said, "Carol has built an effective, committed team and our operations have grown and improved every year thanks to her inspiring, innovative leadership. We will miss Carol’s professionalism, creative mind and friendship."

Carol is survived by daughter, Lucie (Norm) Arendt, and son David; eldest son Jim passed away in 2013. Visitation is set for Wednesday, March 12 with a Celebration of Life service on Thursday March 13. Details may be found at

Carol and her family suggest, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the UW-Madison’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology research fund which supports research in gynecologic cancers. Contributions to this fund significantly help advance cutting-edge research to find new ways to detect the cancer earlier, as well as improve the outcomes and quality of life for women and their families who face these cancers. UW Foundation Fund #12902096, Lock Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807.