Charles R. “Dick” Plumb, who for more than two decades headed the public relations department of the automotive division of Rockwell International, died peacefully at his home in South Carolina on May 8. He was 97 years old.
Early in his career, Plum worked as a reporter and editor for several small daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, including Michigan Daily, Huron County Tribune and Southern Macomb News. He then joined Detroit Free Presswhere he held various editorial positions, including copy editor and makeup editor.
In 1963, Plumb joined Automotive news as a staff reporter and editor. He later held the position of Marketing Director of the publication.
Plum switched to corporate communications in 1969 when he was hired by Rockwell International and found his true professional calling. He eventually became director of communications for Rockwell’s business for components for passenger cars (later acquired by Meritor, which is now acquired by Cummins).
Plumb was an unsurpassed old-school PR man, known for his memorable trips to the press – including annual trips to the Indy 500 – and long-term relationships with journalists, many of whom became lifelong friends.
“I first met Dick when he was an employee Automotive news and I was the newspaper’s business editor Free press somewhere during the 1960s. Shortly after Dick made the jump to PR with Rockwell, where I got to know him well. ” Said Dave Smith, a longtime Detroit automotive journalist. “I always thought he was one of the best among the many PR people I worked with: smart, enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable and a gentleman who never strayed too far from his journalistic roots.”
Plumb was born in 1924 in Yates Center, Cannes. He met his future wife Juanita in high school, where they played romantic starring roles in a school play and worked together on a school newspaper. Last year they celebrated their 76th anniversary.
After attending college at the University of Kansas, Plumm enlisted in the U.S. Navy as part of the V-12 College’s training program during World War II. After the war, he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Michigan.
In addition to Juanita, Plum left children Chris (Torres), Rick, Kim (Cahill) and Steve; sons-in-law Mark Torres and Bob Cahill; and grandchildren Laura, Evan, Daniel and Addison.