Obituary: Aaron Cushman

The founder of Chicago-based agency Aaron D. Cushman and Associates has died at age 96.

HIGHLAND PARK, IL: Agency founder Aaron D. Cushman passed away on April 17 in Highland Park, Illinois. He was 96. 

“My grandfather was a role model and an inspiring leader to many,” his grandson, Luke Cushman, principal of Cushman Integrated Marketing and Communications, said. “He led an extraordinary life and remarkable career, and it is a privilege to continue his legacy in our field.”

A decorated World War II combat pilot who also served during the Korean War with the Strategic Air Command, founded Aaron D. Cushman and Associates in 1952 in Chicago. He represented local clients in the entertainment field including The Three Stooges, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Autry, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan.

Cushman played semi-pro softball at the University of Illinois. He combined his passions for baseball and public relations, representing the Chicago White Sox in PR and marketing from 1959 to 1975, when he became a part-owner of the team.

Originally working from his apartment, his firm expanded to include offices in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Omaha, Nebraska. His client list grew across industries to include blue chip companies such as Motorola, Conagra, Chrysler, Marriott Hotels, Century 21 Real Estate, Philip Morris U.S.A., RGA Reinsurance and Warner Lambert Pharmaceuticals.

Cushman’s agency also represented foreign governments for tourism, including Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, the Cayman Islands and South Korea, as well as resorts and hotels, such as Sandals Resorts, Beaches, and the American Orient Express.

In 1983, former journalist Thomas Amberg joined the firm, and bought it in 1997. The firm was renamed Amberg/Cushman Communications. 

In 2004, Cushman published the book, "A Passion for Winning: Fifty Years of Promoting Legendary People and Products" and in 2016 “Public Relations: Impact on the World.”

Cushman had served as president of the Publicity Club of Chicago; executive committee member of the Public Relations Society of America; president of the Chicago Chapter of the Counselors Academy; president of Public Relations Organization International; and on the board of directors of the Society of American Travel Writers, which honored him with their Marco Polo award.

The International Hospitality Marketing Association named him man of the year in 1996. He received lifetime achievement awards from both the Chicago Chapter of PRSA and the Florida Chapter of PRSA.

He is predeceased by his wife of 71 years, Doris Cushman, and one grandchild. Cushman is survived by his son, Gary Cushman; daughters Amy Wilton and Pamela Cushman; nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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