Gary Urda, SVP of sales at Simon & Schuster, died the morning of June 24 after collapsing at the gym. He was 59.

S&S CEO Jonathan Karp delivered the news to Urda's colleagues in a note yesterday morning, calling Urda "the best kind of colleague—engaged, thoughtful, attentive, constructive, upbeat, humorous, warm, and always approachable, personable, and capable." Urda, Karp continued, "was a quintessential sales executive, with a deep knowledge of our industry... he cared about our books and all of the people selling them, and was himself a terrific reader, with a particular expertise in thrillers."

Urda joined S&S in 1996 as VP of sales development at Pocket Books, before being promoted to VP of direct sales. In 2003, he was named VP and director of distributor sales and retail management for all of S&S. In 2005, he moved to S&S's Atria Books as VP and associate publisher—where he helped catapult books like The Secret and authors like Vince Flynn and Brad Thor to bestsellerdom—before returning to the sales division in 2008.

He was named SVP of sales in 2017 following the retirement of Michael Selleck, at which point he was named to the S&S executive committee where he reported to then CEO Carolyn Reidy and COO Dennis Eulua. As SVP of sales, Urda headed up S&S's sales division, with oversight of all sales areas.

Prior to joining S&S, Urda was VP of wholesale sales at Bantam Books and director of sales at Lightning Source, working with trade and university presses. He held an MBA from Lehigh University and a BSBA from Villanova. Urda was also the author of two children's books, Love You More and Daddy and Me, both published by Little Bee.

Over the course of his career, Karp wrote, Urda managed sales in nearly every sales channel and adjusted S&S's strategies to account for the changes in its customer base and in consumer reading habits. With his wide-ranging expertise, Karp said, Urda was "the not-so-secret ingredient to so much of our success as a company."

He leaves behind a wife and two sons, with whom he lived on Long Island. Until further notice, Urda’s staff will report to Eulau.

S&S will hold a virtual gathering to celebrate Urda's life and work on Zoom on Wednesday, July 10 at 4:00 pm ET. All who knew and worked with Urda are invited to attend.

Written remembrances may be sent to