JMC Mourns Death of Alumnus, PR Leader David Meeker
Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) mourns the death of David Meeker, an alumnus and longtime friend of the School. He graduated in 1961 and taught part-time in JMC throughout the 2000s. He served on the JMC Professional Advisory Board (PAB) from the time it began in the 1990s until his death.
Meeker died May 26, 2016, surrounded by family. He had suffered a heart attack at an Akron golf course on May 23.
Meeker was a proud alumnus with an unwavering commitment to JMC and the public relations profession.
“David was a trusted and valued member of our Professional Advisory Board,” said JMC Director Thor Wasbotten. “He helped build the reputation of the School as a proud graduate, as an industry leader and innovator, and as a confidant to our faculty, students and me.”
Meeker was partner at Meeker-Mayer Public Relations, president of David A. Meeker and Associates and executive vice president of Edward Howard & Company (now part of Fahlgrine Mortine) – a “local celebrity in the field of PR,” as Associate Professor Stefanie Moore put it.
“I remember hearing about him when I was an intern myself,” she said. “I've always admired him for his contributions to our profession and to PR Kent. Last semester he called with several internship opportunities for our students, and I was excited for them to be able to learn from one of the best. He has mentored many of our students and alumni and has been tremendous resource to our program.”
Meeker never hesitated to help students and professionals make connections.
“(He) always answered the call when asked to address our seniors in the public relations seminar class,” said Associate Professor Bill Sledzik. “One theme that appeared in every lecture was the importance of organizational performance to successful PR. To paraphrase Dave: If your company is accused of polluting the river, the first step to restoring your reputation is to clean up the river. He was all about social responsibility — to the community and to the planet.”
Fellow PAB member and alumna Elizabeth Bartz, ’80, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications, Inc., in Akron, started her career as an intern under Meeker at Meeker-Mayer.
“Dave was a fabulous boss,” she said. “He tolerated my enthusiasm about projects, tolerated my loud voice, and even tolerated this smarty-pants intern when I asked for a raise … and got it.”
When he retired from Edward Howard in 2001, the firm established the David A. Meeker Scholarship fund to honor its longtime employee. Meeker and his wife, Anita, matched the firm’s contribution to double the endowment, and the scholarship has supported a Kent State public relations student with a scholarship ever since. Public relations major Hanna Moore, ’17, is the current scholarship recipient.
"I am extremely grateful to have received David Meeker's generous scholarship for the past two years, and I enjoyed sitting with him at this year's JMC scholarship dinner and learning about his amazing career in public relations and journalism," Moore said. "He will surely be missed by the Kent State and JMC community."
Meeker has attended the JMC scholarship dinner each year, enjoying the opportunity to meet with students like Moore.
“I will miss his guidance, his leadership and his laugh,” Wasbotten said. “We will especially miss the pride he felt in all of the students he and Anita have supported through his scholarship in his name.”