Satiric writer Bob McCully often showed compassionate side
Although Bob McCully was recognized as one of the top advertising and public relations practitioners in this part of the country, he also was known for the satirical musical revues he wrote and often performed.
And for people who were hungry, homeless or needed a helping hand, the McCully household in Point Breeze served as a temporary mission, said stepson Michael Clark of Maryland.
“Bob loved dogs, so the door was also open for homeless strays,” Clark added.
Robert McCully, former director of communications and advertising for Ketchum Inc., died Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, in UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. He was 88.
During World War II, the Navy recognized Mr. McCully’s writing skills and assigned him to a base in California, where he handled dispatches between naval installations in the Pacific.
Mr. McCully’s interest in satirical writing became evident during the years he was attending Peabody High School in East Liberty. He would sell gags to nationally known writers such as Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip.
“Bob still kept some of the letters of encouragement he received from Schulz through the years,” Clark added.
He recalled one of Mr. McCully’s favorite sayings: “The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog.”
Michael Clark said Mr. McCully had a command of the English language and would use uncommon words, but not ostentatiously.
In addition to using his satirical talents in writing gags for cartoonists, Mr. McCully was director of communications and advertising for Ketchum Inc. His clients included Westinghouse Electric Corp., U.S. Steel., Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, Associated Occupational Therapists, the University of Pittsburgh and Allegheny and Westminster colleges.
While at a business meeting in Kaufmann’s Department Store, Downtown, he met Barbara Clark, who at the time was Kaufmann’s vice president of advertising. They were married in 1976.
“My mother was a staunch Democrat,” Michael Clark said. “Bob was a rock-ribbed Republican. So they agreed to cancel out each others’ vote.”
The Rev. Leslie Rymer, associate rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside, recalled Mr. McCully’s love and dedication for his wife. After her death in the 1990s, he planted a tree on church property at Shady Avenue and Walnut Street.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. McCully teamed up with noted guitarist Joe Negri, who today teaches guitar at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.
“Those were exciting days,” Negri said. “We started out at the Little Lake Theater, where we produced our first satirical production, ‘An Evening Without Desdemona Fink.’
“Although Bob was stoic when it came to dealing with the talent, we had fun,” Negri added. Mr. McCully had the idea of adding “Fink” to the name of the Shakespeare character.
During his career, Mr. McCully wrote for Rege Cordic’s radio program and Sterling Yates’ TV show, both on KDKA.
In addition to his stepson, Mr. McCully is survived by his stepchildren, Patrick Clark of North Carolina and Sheri Arti of Swissvale, and five grandchildren.
Mr. McCully was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Clark McCully and a brother, Paul McCully.
Burial will be private. A memorial is being planned.