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Microphone maven Rose L. Shure dies at 95

Rose L. Shure headed a business that managed to link Lou Reed, Elvis Presley, Roger Daltrey, Martin Luther King Jr. and every president since Franklin Roosevelt.

She was chairman of Shure Inc., a Niles maker of audio electronics equipment renowned for the quality and durability of its cutting-edge microphones. When King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, he spoke into a Shure mic. When the U.S. Post Office created its first Presley stamp, he had the Shure 55SH mic in his hand. Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, twirls the Shure SM58 around his head like a lasso. Lou Reed advertised them.

At presidential addresses, they’re on the lecturn. And when the Japanese signed World War II surrender papers on the U.S.S. Missouri, Shure mics were on deck.

Though also known to consumers for its earphones, it supplies many audio products for industry, including wireless microphones used in music, sports and business. Shure produces equipment for sound mixing and audio processing and audio conferencing. Its microphones are used for the Academy Award and Grammy ceremonies, and by contemporary recording artists including Luke Bryan, Cage the Elephant, Fall Out Boy, Hozier, Imagine Dragons, Little Big Town, Maroon 5, Jason Mraz, Mumford & Sons, Twenty One Pilots and Wilco.

Postage stamp with Elvis Presley cradling his Shure mic / provided photo

Postage stamp with Elvis Presley cradling his Shure mic / provided photo

Mrs. Shure, who became chairman of the privately held company after the death of her husband, founder Sidney N. Shure, died Monday at her Lake Shore Drive home at age 95.

Her 60-year career was remarkable not only for its rise and longevity, but for the seamlessness of the transition after the death of her 93-year-old husband in 1995.

“She was actively involved in the company as chairman, worked very diligently to ensure that Shure’s long history of ethical and civic and quality standards were maintained in the spirit of the track record, the vision, that had been established by her husband,” said Mark Brunner, senior director of global brand management.

In 1949, Rose Langer, a native of Dubuque and a University of Iowa business graduate, was hired to be a secretary to Sidney N. Shure, who preferred to go by S.N. Shure.

Five years later, she became the second wife of Shure, an alum of Austin High School and the University of Chicago, whose amateur radio hobby led him to start Shure Radio in 1925 at 19 S. Wells. Back then, radios weren’t in mass production. A mail-order radio parts catalog company, Shure supplied components to consumers who built their own sets.

After the stock market crash, the comapny got out of distribution and entered manufacturing. During World War II, Shure supplied microphones to the U.S. military, including headsets and noise-canceling microphones that enabled bomber crews to talk over the roar inside aircraft. From the vinyl era of the 1940s through the 1980s, Shure became a worldwide leader in producing phonograph cartridges — the headpiece that includes the record needle.

After her husband’s death, the company continued to produce inventive products that became market leaders and Shure tripled in size, Brunner said.

“We have had the privilege of working with a truly extraordinary woman,” Shure CEO Sandy LaMantia said. “Our company and many charitable and cultural organizations have benefited from her thoughtfulness and generosity. I am confident that the legacy left to us by Mr. and Mrs. Shure will continue to endure in our hearts and in our minds.”

The company, based at the intersection of Hartrey and Howard in Evanston from 1956 to 2003, is headquartered at 5800 W. Touhy Ave. in Niles in a glass building designed by Helmut Jahn. Its largest plant is in Mexico, and it has units throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Mrs. Shure, a patron of the arts who loved attending the opera, ballet and performances at Symphony Center, is survived by her stepchildren, Myrna and Bob, and many nieces and nephews.

Private services are planned Wednesday at Temple Chai in Long Grove.

Lou Reed advertised  Shure microphones

Lou Reed advertised Shure microphones

Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra and a Shure microphone / provided photo

Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra and a Shure microphone / provided photo