Remembering Al Golin

Five years ago, Al and his wife of more than 55 years, June, spoke candidly to my class about their careers and the trials and tribulations of maintaining a family and civic life while building a business. He expanded on that discussion during his commencement remarks to College of Communication graduates at DePaul University in 2012. While urging young people to be “current, creative and curious,” Al also encouraged them to live a balanced life by giving back to their professions and communities.

“I interviewed a young person the other day who thought he was impressing me when he described himself as a ‘workaholic’ and thought I was the same,” Al told graduates. “I promptly told him that he should think of developing outside activities so that he would be more interesting to his family and friends, and, of course, his business colleagues. I firmly believe that my interest in art, music, theater, literature and sports, in addition to community involvement, helped me lead a full life.”

“DePaul awarded Al an honorary degree because he so beautifully embodied the university’s ideals,” said Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, president of DePaul.  “We considered him our ‘final lesson’ to our students as they graduated.  He was at the top of his game professionally in every sense, and, creating the concept of a ‘trust bank,’ led his clients and field toward genuinely noble behavior.  The world is better because of Al Golin, and we were honored to have our students learn from him.” Al served on the Dean’s advisory board for the College of Communication at DePaul.

The Golin Legacy

Former Golin CEO and Chicago PR leader Rich Jernstedt  sums up the outpouring of affection for Al by noting that “he meant so much to so many people.” Said Rich, “To me he was boss, mentor and friend. His standards for virtually everything he did will always be an inspiration. We will all miss the gentleman, but his legacy will last forever through his wonderful family, the firm and the impact he had on everything he touched.”

Roger Bolton, president of the Arthur W. Page Society, said: “In this day of data analytics, it’s refreshing that Al was all about human judgement.” In his Page Society Hall of Fame induction speech, Al said, “It really boils down to going with your gut feeling.”

To get a sense of how Al will be remembered in the history of our profession, I asked corporate historian Bruce Weindruch to assess his legacy.

“Al Golin’s career is remarkable in that he began as a traditional publicist and within a decade was pioneering what would become the discipline of modern corporate communications,” said Bruce, founder and CEO of The History Factory. “From his unique vantage point in Chicago, he built a practice that helped fuel the post-WWII national and global expansion of some of America’s greatest business innovators.”

Al is survived by his wife June, and their three children: Barry Golin, Karen Golin and Ellen Resnick  six grandchildren: Sam, Alex, Jackson, Kyle, Cydney and Marlena; and one great grandson, Thor. A memorial celebration of Al’s life is being planned.

In His Own Words

Check out the inspiring messages contained in the informative and highly entertaining “Allegories” series featuring Al Golin discussing major milestones in his life and career.

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