Craig Tarler : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Craig Tarler

Craig and Patty Tarler

A great friend to pipe smokers everywhere, Craig Cornell Tarler, 82, of Cornell & Diehl, passed away on Sept. 4, 2012. His booming laugh, endless enthusiasm, dreadful jokes, innovation, childlike wonder and loyal support of the pipe smoking community will be terribly missed.

Tarler and his wife, Patty, entered our hobby later in life than most. Instead of retiring in 1990, they bought a rundown tobacco company—“Just to keep things interesting,” Tarler said. He’d had a long, enormously successful career in public relations, but now it was time to relax. Part of that relaxation plan was to give up cigarettes and smoke only pipes. An on-again/off-again pipe smoker for most of his life, Tarler called the company he’d usually ordered tobacco from and while on the phone, he learned the company was for sale. That information would have a profound effect on his life, and on the lives of all of us.

The company was called Amar Blending, which had previously acquired the old Atlas Blending company. The Tarlers decided to buy it to help occupy their time. “I thought it might be fun,” said Tarler.

When most of us think about tobacco companies, we tend to think bigger than Amar Blending. Tarler drove a van to pick it up, but half a van would have been enough. There was some tobacco, some flavorings and a box of recipes. He got a few dozen wholesale accounts and some customer cards. He renamed the company Cornell & Diehl, using his middle name and Patty’s maiden name. They moved from Pennsylvania to Morganton, N.C., to be near family and took their new tobacco company with them.

Here’s an important detail about Craig Tarler: He always carried more ideas and more enthusiasm than typically fits into one human mind. He may at first have thought he’d just be dabbling in tobacco blending to fill some idle hours of retirement, but his enthusiasm would never have let that suffice. His expertise in public relations took hold, and Cornell & Diehl started to thrive.

In 1995 he started a website and business expanded further. He constantly developed new blends. He loved humorous names for the tobaccos and arranging humorous artwork for the tins. He and Patty became consistent exhibitors at pipe shows, and their irresistible personalities won friends from around the world. In 1999 he started tinning tobaccos for G.L. Pease, with whom he later collaborated for the Two Friends line of tobaccos.

In 2005, C&D moved to larger manufacturing facilities to accommodate more blends, more staff, more accounts, more shipping—more everything.

Long before he left us, Tarler ensured that Cornell & Diehl would seamlessly and efficiently continue providing for the pipe community even when he stepped away from the business. Four years ago his son, Chris, joined C&D. With decades of business experience in the restaurant industry, Chris has been operating the company with his father for years, and Craig’s departure, while devastating to his family and all who knew him, will not affect the quality or service that C&D is known for. Also comforting, one of the most wonderful women ever to grace our community, Patty Tarler, is still there.

Craig Tarler’s defining characteristic throughout his adventures in tobacco was to always have fun. And the fun he couldn’t help having was infectious. Everyone who spoke to Tarler came away feeling better about the world. As a tobacco man, Tarler built a company and brought us many wondrous and delicious tobacco experiences, but the relationships he built within our small community were more wonderful yet. We’ll continue to hear his booming laugh at our pipe shows, and remember the friend we were privileged to have known.

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Category: Uncategorized, Winter 2013

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