Aaron Cushman, a public relations executive who founded Chicago-based agency Aaron D. Cushman and Associates, died on April 17. He was 96.
Cushman was born on August 29, 1924, in Chicago. A decorated World War II combat pilot, he served with the United States Air Force from 1943 to 1945 and served again from 1950 to 1952 with the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War.
After a stint as publicity director for the Chicago Lake Front Fair, Cushman in 1952 founded Aaron D. Cushman and Associates. At first, he primarily represented local clients in the entertainment field, which eventually brought him to work with celebrities such as the Three Stooges, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Autry, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Sarah Vaughan.
The agency grew to become, at one point, the 10th largest independent PR firm in the U.S., maintaining additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Omaha, Nebraska. It counted Motorola, Con Agra, Quaker Oats, Marriott Hotels, Century 21 Real Estate, Philip Morris USA, RGA Reinsurance and the Chrysler and Ford Motor corporations as clients.
The Cushman agency also handled tourism marketing for a number of foreign governments, including Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Cayman Islands and South Korea. Other tourism accounts included Sandals Resorts and the American Orient Express.
Notably, Cushman’s firm was agency of record for the Chicago White Sox from 1959 to 1975. Cushman later became co-owner of the team and joined its board of directors.
Former journalist Thomas Amberg joined Aaron D. Cushman and Associates in 1983 and purchased it fourteen years later, rechristening it Cushman/Amberg Communications. Cushman/Amberg acquired Chicago-based firm, Chuck Werle and Associates in 2000 as well as healthcare marketing and PR shop HealthInfo Direct in 2006. The agency folded in 2012.
After retiring from his agency, Cushman became an author, penning “A Passion for Winning: Fifty Years of Promoting Legendary People and Products” in 2004, which focused on his five-decade career in the PR sector. This was followed by another book, “Public Relations Impacts the World,” in 2016.
Cushman was also formerly president of the Publicity Club of Chicago, a member of the Public Relations Society of America's executive committee, president of the Chicago Chapter of the Counselors Academy, president of Public Relations Organization International and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers' board of directors.
He is preceded in death by his wife Doris as well as one grandchild. He is survived by children Gary Cushman, Amy Wilton (Tom Lichamer) and Pamela Cushman (Randy Miller); as well as nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.