Public relations magnate, U alumnus dies at age 82

Robert E. Hillard, founder of a global public relations firm and former editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily, died Wednesday of emphysema. He was 82 years old.
After leaving the Daily, Hillard worked as a reporter for the Des Moines Register and Tribune and the St. Louis Star-Times.
Hillard later founded what is now the fifth-largest public relations firm in the world, Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.
Enrolling at the University in 1935, Hillard had plans to become a doctor. But his aspirations changed after he began reporting for the Daily as an extracurricular activity, according to a 1998 Daily alumni magazine article.
He graduated summa cum laude from the University in 1940.
Hillard served as a Naval officer in the Pacific during World War II. Shortly after returning to the United States, he entered a partnership with Alfred Fleishman and founded the Fleishman-Hillard agency.
Hillard said he wanted to be his own boss and make more money than in the newspaper business, according to a press release.
He retired from the business in 1982.
The firm is now the number one public relations firm in the U.S., with annual billings of $213 billion.
Hillard received lifetime-achievement awards from Inside PR, an industry publication, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch obituary last week. In addition, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Daily in May 1998.
He was active in St. Louis civic affairs, Family and Children’s Service of Greater St. Louis and the Health and Welfare Council of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Hillard is survived by three stepchildren: Kathy A. Lowe of La Joya, N.M., Terry E. Lowe of Claedonia, Mo., and Jeffrey J. Lowe of Clayton, Mo.; and four stepgrandchildren.
— Compiled by staff reports