Obituary: John Beardsley, Founder to Leading Minneapolis Firm
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Obituary: John Beardsley, Founder to Leading Minneapolis Firm

John Beardsley, retired chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based communications firm Padilla Speer Beardsley, died Thursday night from complications following heart surgery. He was 73.

Paul Holmes

MINNEAPOLIS—John Beardsley, retired chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based communications firm Padilla Speer Beardsley, died Thursday night from complications following heart surgery. He was 73.

 

Beardsley, who began his career as a journalist with the Associated Press, was part of the communications departments at Pillsbury Co. and Dayton Hudson Corp. before joining Padilla and Speer, Inc. in 1970. He was named CEO in 1987 shortly after the firm merged with Brum & Anderson and became Padilla Speer Beardsley. He retired at the end of 2001.

 

“One of our firm’s core values—keep learning—reflects John’s intense desire to understand the triggers that motivate action from customers, investors, employees and voters,” says Lynn Casey, Padilla Speer Beardsley’s current CEO and Beardsley’s successor. “His inspiration came from astonishingly diverse sources ranging from classic literature to pop culture to neuroscience. His most recent passion, social network theory, is at the root of the social media campaigns and word-of-mouth marketing programs that communications firms like ours are now creating for our clients.”

 

Beardsley also took a keen interest in the professionalization of the public relations field. He presided over the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and became the Society’s national president in 1995. An early adopter of information technology, he is credited with putting PRSA on the Internet, giving members across the country ready access to tools for advancing the profession.

 

Beardsley is survived by Sharon, his wife of 50 years; daughters Elizabeth (Liz) Hlavac of Minnetonka (fiance Paul Sprain), Alison Mezzenga of Hopkins (fiance Ray Beasley) and Leslie Yetka of Minnetonka (husband Christopher); grandchildren Justin Mezzenga, Lauren Hlavac, and Benjamin and Katherine Yetka; siblings Doug Foster, Ross Foster, Deborah (Deb) Tinney and Sandra Barkman; and numerous cousins.

 

Plans for a memorial service are pending. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family has requested donations be made to Washburn Center for Children, 2430 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404.

 

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