NEW YORK: Longtime Ketchum executive Marv Gellman died on Monday, following a five-year battle with advanced leukemia.
Gellman had worked at Ketchum since 2003, most recently as VP and director of media relations in the firm’s New York tech practice.
Ketchum CEO Rob Flaherty said he had known Gellman for more than three decades. They both graduated from Syracuse University and worked together at Burson-Marsteller before Ketchum. Flaherty noted that "all of Ketchum is mourning" Gellman’s death and will sorely miss him.
"[Gellman] was loved by his colleagues and valued by his clients," said Flaherty. "He was a consummate media relations pro, often most excited about the toughest stories to place. He was the kindest, nicest, most optimistic guy you could be around."
Nick Ragone, chief marketing and communications officer at Ascension and a former Ketchum executive, concurred, adding that Gellman particularly relished the tough pitches--the ones that nobody wanted.
"The highest compliment I can give [Gellman] – and everyone that has ever worked with him will agree – is that he was a ‘pros pro’ when it came to media relations," said Ragone. "Nobody loved pitching media more than he did."
Gellman’s career spanned positions at General Electric, Burson-Marsteller, and his own firm, Gellman Public Relations, according to his LinkedIn account.
While at General Electric, Gellman was responsible for automotive PR for the company’s chemical and metallurgical division. He opened the first automotive public relations office for GE as part of its effort to position its plastics and silicone products in the automotive industry, according to Gellman’s LinkedIn profile.
He also worked at CBS radio affiliate WIBX, in Utica, New York, writing and announcing local and national news.
Gellman left behind a wife and four sons he was "so proud of," added Flaherty. A big rock and roll fan, Gellman was also in a celebrated garage rock band from the 1960s called The Beach Nuts that competed with Bruce Springsteen's early band The Castilles in battle of the band competitions on the Jersey Shore.
"His love of music--particularly his own music--was contagious," said Ragone.
Flaherty added that Gellman was "incredibly brave" over the past five years as he battled and beat advanced leukemia twice, enduring two stem-cell transplants.
"His will to live and grace in the face of such odds were absolutely incredible," said Flaherty.