Randy Kessler, national accounts manager at Scholastic, died unexpectedly on October 22 at the age of 50. Kessler is survived by his wife Arianne and two daughters, Arabella and Carmelina.

Based in his hometown of Kenosha, Wis., Kessler joined Scholastic in 2004, where he oversaw trade sales to Readerlink and Target among other mass market accounts, such as Kmart, BJ’s Wholesale Club, the military, Kohl’s, Meijer, Kroger, Shopko, Fred Meyer, and more. Over the course of his 16 years with the publisher, Kessler and Scholastic were awarded multiple Readerlink’s Vendor of the Year. Prior to joining Scholastic, Kessler held positions at Golden Books, HiT Entertainment, and Dalmatian Press.

Elizabeth Whiting, director of national accounts for Scholastic Trade, said in a statement, “Everyone at Scholastic who knew Randy felt a special connection to him—including each and every person he met in the office. He was friends with every assistant, every manager, anyone who crossed his path—all the way up to Scholastic President and CEO Dick Robinson.” Whiting went on to say, “His infectious smile and generous spirit inspired all who spent time with him, and his competitive nature made us all better. We deeply mourn the loss of such a great man, friend, and role model, and our hearts are with his family at this unimaginably difficult time.”

Kessler’s colleagues at Scholastic have started a fundraiser to support his family; details can be found here.