TUSCALOOSA—Bob Cohn, who founded Cohn & Wolfe—which would become the largest public relations firm in the South before merging with sister agency Burson-Marsteller to form BCW—died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on July 4 at the age of 88.

Cohn was known a big creative thinker, who built an agency that initially specialized in consumer PR and sports marketing—with an extensive roster of Olympics-related business—before developing a top-tier healthcare practice.

Born October 12, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, to Theodora Kremenko Cohn and Harold Cohn, Bob  was orphaned as a middle schooler  and raised by an aunt and uncle. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Airforce, serving as an information officer, editing newsletters. After his service, he took advanteg of the GI Bill and enrolled at The University of Alabama where he continued his journalistic pursuits while studying communications and serving as editor in chief of student newspaper, The Crimson White.

Cohn entered the workforce in Tuscaloosa as a printing salesman and soon joined the Montgomery Advertiser on the police beat and as an editor. As a journalist, he reported on the Freedom Rides and other political and social strife during the Civil Rights movement.

He later served as Atlanta bureau chief for Savannah, Augusta and Athens newspapers and was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist in photography for an iconic action shot of lawmaker Denmark Groover tearing the clock off the balcony in the gallery of the Georgia House of Representatives.

He then pivoted to a public relations career with the creation in 1970 of Cohn & Wolfe, alongside his partner Norman Wolfe. The firm worked for blue chip brands including Coca-Cola, FedEx, Chick-fil-A and Portman Holdings and was eventually sold in 1984 to Young & Rubicam, also parent to Burson Marsteller.

In 2021, Bob and his wife June—who he met in college—returned to Tuscaloosa. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, June Hubbard Cohn; daughter Terri Justice; son Greg Cohn; and five grandchildren.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held in Barge Commons at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta on August 5. In lieu of flowers, contributions are appreciated to Hospice of West Alabama.