Industry Mourns The Passing of Jack Bittner
Written by Ed Scott
As the headline above sadly announces - industry icon and veteran publisher Jack Bittner passed away on December 14, 2009, at 86 years of age. Jack’s passing followed a long bout with cancer during which he staunchly maintained his habitual and unflagging cheerfulness.
I first encountered Jack during an executive search some time in the Sixties. One of our publishers had resigned to start his own business and we were interviewing for a replacement. At the time Jack Bittner was a well-known sales representative for a number of publications in the commercial-industrial PHCP market. He was a perfect fit for our group of publications and we shook hands after just one interview.
Jack’s attributes as an advertising sales executive were a perfect storm of talent:
- To begin with, Jack was one heck
of a nice guy. He really could charm the birds off the trees and what’s more, he
meant everything he said.
- He was an
incredibly hard worker. At industry meetings, which abound in the PHCP field,
Jack was everywhere to be seen from the opening bell to the last few minutes.
He had an enormous circle of industry friends, the fruit of constant attention
to our clients and prospects.
- Jack fit the industry’s sales/marketing pattern perfectly. Years ago I learned that an amazingly high percentage of successful sales people in our market were a) good athletes; b) military veterans, especially with service in World War II, and c) a combination of (a) and (b).
Jack fit perfectly into this pattern: He was an outstanding golfer with an enviable handicap and the willingness to coach lesser qualified players (such as yours truly) on any point of the game. Additionally, Jack was a strong tennis player, a talent he often displayed when the industry meeting included a tennis venue.
On the military side, Jack served in World War II as a naval aviator flying off aircraft carriers under steam - not exactly a cushy Navy assignment.
In addition to all this, Jack was an unabashed and totally committed family man. And no account of his career would be complete without mention of Dorothy Bittner. This lovely lady graced any number of industry meetings and made countless friends among attendees and spouses. Indeed, Jack and Dorothy Bittner will long be fondly remembered on the PHCP convention circuit.
Rounding out the Bittner family are sons Bruce and Scott. For many years one of Jack’s most cherished activities was a fishing trip with his sons. Even when illness impaired travel, Jack was ready to pack up and go North for a few days fishing with Bruce and Scott.
This commentary could go on for pages, but those who knew Jack Bittner know that the life he lived was a better obituary than any written word could provide.
In his book The Greatest Generation, author Tom Brokaw writes of those American multitudes who fought and won World War II, then returned home to build their own families and a new and more prosperous America. Jack Bittner was a sterling exemplar of that greatest of generations, and his memory will long be honored accordingly.