Jack Thiessen, a former editor with trucking publisher Newport Communications, public relations counsel, newspaper reporter, and infantry veteran of World War II, passed away Friday, Aug. 30, in Temperance, Mich. He was 89.
Thiessen was born Nov. 8, 1923, in Detroit, and entered the U.S. Army in early 1942. He saw combat in Europe as a platoon sergeant with the 97th Infantry Division, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. After leaving the Army in 1946 he started as a beat reporter for the old Detroit Times, and for three years was the newspaper’s movie critic and entertainment columnist.
He joined a Detroit advertising agency to edit two magazines published for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. One covered the trucking industry, which led to a public relations job with a component manufacturer in Cleveland. He worked in newspapers again, then joined the public relations firm of Edward Howard & Co. as account executive for White Motor Co., a major heavy truck manufacturer until 1981.
After a move to Toledo, he started his own agency, PR Counselors, in 1984, with truck-related companies comprising the majority of his clientele. They included Volvo White, Detroit Diesel, Dana Corp., Rockwell Automotive, Michelin Tire, Kysor-Cadillac, Bendix Automotive, Ruan Transportation, and TRALA, the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.
During this period, Thiessen won an assignment from Volvo White and Fruehauf to create a tribute to the American Trucking Associations for its 50th anniversary. It was the "Cavalcade of Trucking," a rolling museum in a semitrailer, which chronicled five decades of trucking in pictures and dioramas. It went was displayed at 117 locations in the 48 contiguous states.
In 1987 he joined Newport Communications (now part of Bobit Business Media) to help start Truckstop World magazine, and in ‘88 he also started editing Truckers News. Thiessen was honored in 1989 with the American Business Media's Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award, regarded as the Pulitzer Prize of business publishing, for best editorials.
He also wrote “A Tribute to Trucking,” a pictorial and written history of trucks and trucking published in 1989 in four editions. He retired to Lakeland, Fla., in 1997.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Marie (Peterson), and daughter, Sally Pyburn, and two sisters. He is survived by his second wife, Geraldine (Rinehart) Filonczuk, three children, two stepchildren, 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, and a sister.
Many were with him, saying their good-byes and singing hymns, at the time of his passing at a hospital in Temperance, just north of Toledo, Ohio, where he and his wife spent their summers.
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