ST. LOUIS: Alfred Fleishman, one of the founders of Fleishman-Hillard, died May 28 at age 96.
With partner Robert Hillard, Fleishman started the firm bearing their names in 1946, and through work for Anheuser-Busch and other major St. Louis companies, turned it into a powerhouse in its hometown before retiring in 1975.
"He was Mr. St. Louis. He just knew everybody there, said Dan Edelman, founder of Edelman Public Relations. Edelman recalled opening a St. Louis office only to close it after 10 years because of the stranglehold Fleishman had on major PR business in that city.
"He certainly was a well-known guy in the early days of the business. His relationship with Mr. Busch (of Anheuser-Busch) was very close," said Al Golin, a founder of Golin/Harris International.
John Graham, Fleishman's chairman and CEO, first met Fleishman in 1966, and said, "He taught me a tremendous amount about client counseling. He was a superb counselor. I think his legacy is integrity and a very strong commitment to client service."
Though he retired from the agency in 1975, Fleishman remained active by holding Friday lunches with firm trainees. He was also still writing a regular column for the St. Louis Business Journal and for several Jewish newspapers.
Fleishman began his PR career as an army public information officer at the Pentagon during World War II.
After going to Germany in 1945 for the American Jewish Congress, he lectured coast-to-coast on the need for refugee relief, and remained involved in Jewish causes throughout his life.
Fleishman and Hillard had known each other for a decade before starting their agency. Fleishman had been chief deputy to the city's circuit clerk prior to the war, and Hillard had been a reporter for the now defunct St. Louis Star-Times newspaper. Hillard died in 2000 at age 83.