Robert Gardner, 91, public relations exec

Robert H. Gardner, a prominent Chicago public relations executive and a dedicated volunteer with a long history of community service, died Saturday, April 2, 2005 of congestive heart failure, at his home in Riverside. He was 91.

As founding partner and chairman of Gardner Jones and Company, founded in 1947, Mr. Gardner did much to shape the fledgling field of public relations. The firm grew from two men, Gardner and his co-founder, Scott Jones, to about 40 employees, and served hundreds of clients. The firm was among the first to guide its client CEOs and CFOs in meetings with analyst groups to tell their company stories and business outlook.

Its clients included Abbott Laboratories, Allstate Insurance, Borg Warner, Green Giant, Miles Laboratories, Snap-On Tools, Sunbeam, Stone Container and Waste Management, among many others. The two principals sold the firm in 1975 to Hill & Knowlton, and it became that firm’s Chicago office.

Mr. Gardner remained at Hill & Knowlton as a consultant until 1979, when he retired and started a one-man firm called Special Assignment Public Relations, which he ran until the mid-1990s. His clients included the Northern Trust Bank.

Mr. Gardner devoted many hours to volunteer work both during his career and after his retirement. He served as president of the Association House of Chicago, and as vice president of the Youth Service Project. He offered advice to young businesses as part of the Service Corps of Retired Executives. He served for several years on the board of the Oak Park Symphony. He served as a deacon, elder and council member at the First United Church of Oak Park.

At the time of his death, he was a member of the Riverside Presbyterian Church, where his book reviews for the church newsletter were a popular feature. He was an accomplished bridge and chess player.

Mr. Gardner was born in Austin on Chicago’s West Side in 1913, and lived there until he was 13. His father, Harry Gardner, was vice president of Austin State Bank.

The Gardner family moved to Oak Park, and Mr. Gardner attended Oak Park and River Forest High School, where he served as editor of the school newspaper, the Trapeze. He attended Amherst College, graduating cum laude in 1936.

By 1938, he had joined Ruthrauff and Ryan Advertising in Chicago, where he wrote radio commercials. In 1942, he moved to the Mitchell McKeown Organization, where he managed fundraising drives for the Orchestral Association and the Greek War Relief. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946.

Mr. Gardner is survived by two children, George S. (Gayle) Gardner, of Tucson, and Elizabeth (Derrick Mancini) Gardner of Riverside, and one grandchild.

Services will be held at Riverside Presbyterian Church, 116 Barrypoint Road., at 10:30 am Saturday, April 16. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Riverside Presbyterian Church Music Fund.

George J. Demchuck, 75, Western Electric retiree

George J. Demchuck, 75, a Brookfield resident, died April 5, 2005 at Manor Care Health Services in Hinsdale.

Mr. Demchuck was born in Chicago on Feb. 22, 1930 to John and Sophia Demchuck. He served in the United States Air Force and worked as a cost accountant at the Western Electric in Cicero prior to retiring. He was a member of the Telephone Pioneers of America Hawthorne Chapter #45.

He is survived by his mother; his wife, Sharon L. Demchuck (nee Smith) of Brookfield; his son, Terry L. Demchuck of Brookfield; his daughters, Jennifer Demchuck and Michelle M. (Garry Kays) Demchuck-Kays; three grandchildren, Jeffrey R. Demchuck, Megan M. Kays and Travis J.G. Kays; his sister, Marie Parsons; and his brother, Donald Demchuck.

A funeral Mass, officiated by the Rev. James P. Murphy, was celebrated on April 8 at St. Barbara Church, Brookfield, followed by interment in Woodlawn Cemetery, Forest Park.

Hitzeman Funeral Home, Brookfield, handled arrangements.

Malinda M. Stein, 95, Brookfield homemaker

Malinda M. Stein (nee Steder), a Brookfield homemaker, died April 1, 2005 at her home at the age of 95.

Ms. Stein was born on Dec. 14, 1909 in Maytown, Ill. to William and Rosina Steder. She married William A. Stein and moved to Brookfield, where she lived for 64 years. In addition to raising her family, she taught Sunday School at Faith Lutheran Church.

Ms. Stein is survived by her daughter, Linda Sergo; her grandchildren, William Sergo, Mike Sergo of Brookfield and Walter Sergo; five brothers and two sisters; and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service, officiated by the Rev. Clifford DiMascio, was held April 4 at Hitzeman Funeral Home in Brookfield, followed by interment in Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park.