David Finn, co-founder of PR agency Ruder Finn, died at age 100 on Oct. 18. In an AdAge post, Ruder Finn’s Chief Innovation Officer Michael Schubert pays tribute, below, to the man and his many accomplishments—in and out of the boardroom.
It has been said that David Finn is one of the fathers of the PR industry. In his more than 70 years leading the company as CEO and Chairman, David helped push the boundaries of the communications world, establishing the model for a modern public relations agency in Ruder Finn, the agency he co-founded with Bill Ruder in 1948.
He provided communications counsel to corporate giants Lever Brothers, Exxon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis and Coca-Cola. He was enlisted under three presidential administrations: rallying support for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty for the Kennedy administration; building ready.gov following 9/11 for the under the George W. Bush administration; and serving on the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Clinton administration. And he was instrumental in addressing many of the global challenges of his time with global NGOs from the United Nations and World Bank to the Vatican.
A true pioneer, David did not view the profession as it was, but what it could be, regardless of how many people shared his vision at the time. David’s reputation and lifetime of achievements can be summed up by his favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”