Lakeland Boating’s “Bing” O’Meara Has Died

Bing O’Meara enjoyed a long career in marine publishing.

Walter “Bing” Burns O’Meara, publisher of Lakeland Boating magazine for 38 years, died earlier this month due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81 years old. O’Meara was probably the most beloved of all of the magazine publishers, and has been missed since he stepped down several years ago.

O’Meara was born July 5, 1940 in Englewood, New Jersey, son of the late Walter and Mildred Burns O’Meara. He was raised in Demarest, NJ, and graduated from St. Cecilia High School and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Beloved Hard Worker

O’Meara got his start in the boating magazine business when he became the midwestern salesman for Motor Boating and Sailing magazine in the late 1970s. It wasn’t long before he dramatically improved ad sales in his territory, and as time went on he became well-known in the industry. 

A few years later in one of the industry cyclical downturns, O’Meara was able to buy Lakeland Boating from it’s aging publisher/owner. It wasn’t long before O’Meara had moved Lakeland Boating into the black.  Now he was traveling all over the country calling on advertisers, not just in the Midwest. His reputation proceeded him, and he found doors open to him that had long been closed to the magazine, which went on to be financial and editorial success.

Once the magazine was on its feet and O’Meara could afford it, he bought a Grand Banks trawler and spent many happy years cruising with his wife Linda, his children and grandchildren.

“Bing had a passion for boats, the water, people and dogs, which lasted throughout his life,” said O’Meara’s wife Linda, who is Lakeland Boating’s director of marketing. “He had an uncanny ability to tell a story, entertain readers and share his passion for boating. He loved life and the people he met along the way. Those who knew him will always remember his infectious laugh.”

O’Meara is survived by his loving wife of 30 years, Linda O’Meara; his children Kelly O'Meara Hampton (Dan Johnson), Ryan (Summer) O’Meara, and Cara (Ted) Drost; grandchildren Liam and Claire Hampton, Sean and Meghan O’Meara, and Chloë and Olivia Drost; sister Sharon O’Meara (Amy Periello); sisters-in-law Ann, Cheryl and Nobuko O’Meara; mother-in-law Shirley Buss; brother-in-law Bill (Joan) Buss; many extended family; and many dear friends. He will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched. 

In addition to his parents, Bing was preceded in death by his brothers Donald, Thomas and Jack O’Meara.

A private memorial service is planned for October in Chicago. Friends and colleagues from the recreational boating industry are invited to make donations in Bing O’Meara’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Michigan Boating Industries Association Educational Fund for scholarships benefitting Michigan’s boating industry.