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“A Throwback to Another Time”

Alan Holliday, professor of advertising, dies at 72


Alan Holliday, a retired College of Communication associate professor of advertising, died of pulmonary failure on Monday, January 5, at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 72 years old.

“Alan was a throwback to another time — an absolute gentleman,” recalls John Verret, a COM associate professor of advertising. “We met nearly four decades ago through an agency for Boston advertisers, and I was immediately struck by his wit and charm. He was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known.”

A founder of Hill, Holliday, Connors and Cosmopulos, a Boston advertising firm, Holliday had “enormous energy,” says Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean and an associate professor of journalism. “He was a good friend and a wonderful colleague who will be missed by every student whose life he touched.”

After launching Hill Holliday, Holliday left for Boston ad agencies Quinn & Johnson and Arnold & Co. In 1980, while working full-time, he attended Harvard Divinity School, where he earned a master’s degree in theology. He arrived at Boston University some years later, where he taught advertising for more than a decade and served as the faculty adviser for AdLab, the University’s student-operated advertising agency.

“His teaching didn’t end in the classroom,” Verret says. “There was always a line outside of his office because he knew the industry inside and out, and he wanted to share that knowledge with his students.”

Born and raised in Ohio, Holliday attended Kenyon College outside of Columbus and served in the Army Reserve before beginning an advertising career in New York City. He later transferred to the Boston branch of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, where he met the three men with whom he founded Hill Holliday.

Holliday is survived by his wife, Lucile, daughter Sarah Holliday Weiss of Ypsilanti, Mich., sons Daniel of Portland, Maine, and Thompson of Hingham, Mass., three granddaughters, and two grandsons. A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 10, in St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, located at 172 Main St., in Hingham.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.

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