My life changed forever when my sister, Lucille, met Jack in 1963.
Suddenly, Lucille and I were reading the Journal-American’s advertising and PR column by Jack O’Dwyer. And to top it off, his photo ran with the column.
Advertisers would send Jack all kinds of things to try out. The wackiest one was an amphibious car that he drove to our apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn one Friday night.
Jack took us to Rockaway Beach on Saturday to see if the car delivered what the advertiser had promised.
Our test drive didn't last very long.
Lucky for us, we had closed the windows and locked the doors of the car before heading out to sea.
It did float, but we quickly realized the potential danger of drifting too far out into the ocean and obeyed the admonitions from the beach patrol to head back to land.
We relived that happening for years to come.
On the serious side, Jack worked for one of the best editors in journalism.
Mentored by Leslie Gould, an aggressive reporter who never shied away from controversy, Jack learned a lot about business.
And when things changed at the J-A, he started a newsletter about public relations.
I was his first employee.
My first reporting assignment was to cover a Revlon luncheon, where a new promotion was being launched.
I returned to the office and wrote a thousand-word account of the lunch, which Jack then trimmed down to a cool two sentences.
We had great fun typing the newsletter on our IBM Selectrics which had changeable type fonts, preferring the basic prestige elite; but, using bold and italics for greater emphasis. The lesson: choose only essential words. (Jack admired Annie Proulx and Ernest Hemingway.)
Rubber cement and X-Acto knives were tools of our trade. It was quite the norm to see us splice a word or whole sentence just before deadline.
What are the chances two sisters would marry husbands with the same birthday? While born years apart, Jack and Dan Bohan were very similar.
Lucille met Jack seven years before I met Dan. Before Dan met Jack, I cautioned him that my brother-in-law was “different;” and, if he loved me; he was going to have to love Jack and be willing to listen to his endless talk about his latest lead story.
They became good buddies, especially since they had similar temperaments. Jack and Dan loved competition and worked hard to win the senior golf flights in club championships, often finishing at dusk.
They had a knack for pulling off a win with their determination regardless of the odds; and, developed the “OB” system of scoring. Those two invented challenges, just for fun or maybe for their sanity.
Jack always made us, and many other people, laugh with only two jokes he told over the 55 years I knew him. It was the way he told them, the body language and his intense blue eyes that demanded attention.
Jack is now gone, though I feel his presence and miss him.
He was a rabid researcher, investigating the smallest detail to make the story better.Jack overturned every stone and asked many questions before he could complete his story.
He worked seven days a week, taking breaks only on weekend afternoons. You could always find Jack at either his home or office desk pursuing scoops.
Jack found stories everywhere that he went, even on I-95 in Florida.
Investigating and writing stories kept Jack going.
It was his passion.
Jack’s written words will last forever. We have those words, along with many memories of him.
His name is etched in PR history.
Gloria Bohan launched Fairfax, Va.-based Omega World Travel, which is now one of the nation’s top business travel management companies, in 1972.