John T. Yuhanick

The well-known, highly regarded public relations man founded his own firm and traveled the world

March 03, 2009|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

John Thomas Yuhanick, who founded a public relations and event business, died of cancer Friday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. The Guilford resident was 59.

Born in Salem, Ohio, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at St. Louis University and moved in the early 1970s to Baltimore, where he worked as a Sun advertising representative. He sold ads related to the travel industry and remained an indefatigable traveler throughout his life, often visiting another country every two months. Family members said he kept a perpetual suntan from his numerous visits to tropical destinations, as well as to France and Italy.

He left the newspaper and sold ads for WBAL-TV for more than a decade. He also served a year as president of The Towson Times before founding a public relations business, BB&Y, with the late Anne Boucher. After her death, he formed John Yuhanick and Associates.

"He had a gift for marrying for-profit businesses with his nonprofit clients," said his son, Todd Yuhanick of Rodgers Forge, who now operates the family's public relations firm.

Todd Yuhanick said his father was also well-known throughout Baltimore for his ability to get to the city's newest restaurant.

"On a Saturday night, he always had three parties to go to," said Todd Yuhanick. "He was always the center of attention at these events. He loved good people and good food."

In 2003, Mr. Yuhanick was listed in a Sun article as considering a run for the City Council, but he later abandoned the idea.

Mr. Yuhanick staged fundraising events for the Fells Point and Federal Hill Preservation Society - he brought corporate sponsorships to its annual waterfront fall festival. He also worked for the Baltimore Opera Company, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, the House of Ruth, Artscape, Anne Arundel Medical Center, St. Agnes Hospital and Union Memorial Hospital, where he ran its annual Rites of Spring social event.

"He was the quintessential PR guy," said WJZ-TV's Marty Bass. "He had a ton of credibility with me. He was a fine man, and he always put all his cards on the table."

He also had restaurants as clients - and until recently had an ownership stake in Spice Company, a restaurant in the Colonnade on University Parkway. He promoted Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sotto Sopra and Phillips Seafood.

"He was a genuine, sensitive and sincere man," said Vicki Deyesu, who worked with him at House of Ruth events. "He wanted things to be done well, but with a purpose. He honestly felt that helping others is what we are here for."

A memorial Mass will be offered at 1 p.m. today at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, 2801 N. Charles St., where he was a member.

In addition to his son, survivors include a companion of more than 10 years, Dr. Jack Kardos of Baltimore; a daughter, Lydia Travelstead of Baltimore; his mother, Evelyn Yuhanick of Salem; two brothers, Joe Yuhanick and Bob Yuhanick, both of Salem; a sister, Beatrice Stenta of Jenkintown, Pa.; and a granddaughter.

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