Adviser to presidents and agency founder Julian Read dies

Read briefed the press after President Kennedy’s assassination and built what became one of the world’s largest PR firms.

AUSTIN, TX: Julian Otis Read, a public affairs adviser to several U.S. presidents, died of natural causes on May 8 in Austin, Texas. He was 93.

He worked on the presidential campaign of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 and later advised Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Read served as Texas Governor John Connally’s press secretary during President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Dallas on November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated. Connally rode in the presidential motorcade with the first ladies of the U.S. and Texas, traveling through Dealey Plaza when Kennedy was shot. After White House Deputy Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff announced that the president was dead, Read briefed journalists based on what Connally’s wife had reported to him.

Fifty years later, Read published the book “JFK’s Final Hours in Texas.”

In 1945, at age 18, Read began his career as a sportswriter, covering golf for the Fort Worth Press. Six year later, he founded the PR firm Read-Poland Associates, which merged with Cohn & Wolfe in 2001. In 2018, WPP merged subsidiaries Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe, creating BCW, which now has annual revenue of more than $700 million.

Read had retired as chairman of BCW Texas but maintained a presence in its Texas office.

His storied career also included representing the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus, illusionists Siegfried and Roy, Disney’s World on Ice, the San Antonio HemisFair and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Read was predeceased by his wife of 47 years, Mary Anice Barber Read. He is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

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