Tribute: Professor Roger Layton AM

20 Aug 2021

Professor Roger Layton


Emeritus Professor Roger Layton AM - the father of modern marketing in our region - passed away on 5 June 2021, leaving behind a legacy that will live on in the hearts of his three daughters and those closest to him, and in the minds of future generations of marketing students.

For most marketing academics and students, Roger is understood to be aligned with many important marketing ‘firsts’. He had an illustrious career with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and BHP before an opportunity arose to teach a course on econometrics at Newcastle College; a move that nudged open the door to his academic career and ultimately to Emeritus Professor of Marketing at UNSW. He was the first Professor of Marketing at UNSW, initially appointed as Chair of Marketing in 1967. He pioneered the first degrees in marketing and established the first School of Marketing and its highly successful PhD program. His leadership contributions have been recognised beyond the marketing and University community, including being made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998.

Roger Layton
Professor Layton and wife Dr Merrilyn Layton at Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Centre (2004)
Roger Layton

His principles, philosophies and achievements made an enormous contribution to the field of marketing and research, but it was his enthusiasm for thought-provoking discussion and investigation of ideas that may remain strongest for those of us, like myself, who feel lucky enough to have called him a friend and colleague. Roger was an inspiration and a gentleman.

Roger was a committed member of CHeBA’s Advisory Committee from the Centre’s launch in 2012, having been invited by CHeBA Co-Director Professor Henry Brodaty.

“I had the good fortune to meet Roger and his wife when they asked for my assistance with Merrilyn’s failing memory. Sadly, Merrilyn had Alzheimer’s disease and gradually declined over the years,” said Professor Henry Brodaty.

Throughout, I was impressed with Roger’s steadfast support and care for his wife, his compassion and his curiosity about the science behind Alzheimer’s disease. As our relationship grew, Merrilyn and he agreed to be on our Consumer Advisory Committee for the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration.

Professor Henry Brodaty, CHeBA Co-Director

Roger’s strong interest in the direction of CHeBA stemmed from his wife’s diagnosis, and his “beloved partner in every step we took”, Dr Merrilyn Layton, sadly passed away in 2012. Together they had three children Gretel, Lucienne and Jacinta.

“When we formed CHeBA, I immediately invited Roger to join our Advisory Committee. The Chairman of our Advisory Committee, who was then CEO of Woolworths, could hardly believe his eyes as Roger had been his teacher decades before,” said Professor Brodaty.

Roger Layton
Graduates and Professor Roger Layton (early 1970s)
Roger Layton

His support of CHeBA’s research went beyond advisor when he generously donated $25,000 in April 2016, the first of many donations he made including a final significant show of support in his Will. Roger’s view was that CHeBA’s research was critical to improving future dementia care in Australia and reducing suffering in families like his own. He was clear about his donation targeting infrastructural and administrative support – an area he said was essential for facilitating research but often overlooked and underestimated.

“Roger’s professional and personal experience and sage advice were invaluable to CHeBA and to me - his support for our Centre generous. We miss him. Our best wishes to his daughters,” said Professor Brodaty.

At his memorial service held near his home in Mona Vale, former UNSW Professor of Marketing Ian Wilkinson and now Honorary Professor of Marketing in the University of Sydney Business School, paid tribute to Professor Layton, highlighting his international reputation as one of the leading scholars in marketing and the recipient of many research awards.

He was my mentor and mate and will be greatly missed.

Professor Ian Wilkinson

Roger Layton
Professor Roger Layton (early 1970s)
Roger Layton
Professor Layton with Professor Lynn Chenoweth at the launch of CHeBA (2012)

Layton R, 2017, 'My search for meaning in marketing', Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 9, pp. 217 - 243,