NEW YORK — Theodor V. Shumeyko, a public relations man remembered for everything from building a miniature textile mill on Sixth Avenue to sending a reporter a toilet seat in recognition of a story, died Tuesday at The Valley Hospital in...
NEW YORK — Theodor V. Shumeyko, a public relations man remembered for everything from building a miniature textile mill on Sixth Avenue to sending a reporter a toilet seat in recognition of a story, died Tuesday at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J. He was 82.
The cause was heart failure, according to his son, Bob. He had been in the hospital for about a week and a half after breaking his hip in a fall.
Shumeyko, who always went by Ted, worked in the p.r. field for half a century, and did stints at major textile firms, including Monsanto’s Chemstrand division, Burlington Industries and Dan River during the Sixties and Seventies.
While his colleagues recalled him for his sense of humor — and particularly for the “bunch lunches” he organized for decades at Sardi’s — they also praised his integrity.
“As long as I’ve known him, all his dealings were completely aboveboard. He never would do anything that was not ethical,” said Marvin Klapper, a retired WWD textile editor, who met Shumeyko in the Fifties. “If I called him about something and he couldn’t talk about it, he’d say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t talk about it.’ He would never lie.”
After serving with the U.S. Army in World War II, Shumeyko returned home to his native Newark, N.J., and briefly attended New York University before graduating from Seton Hall. His first jobs were in p.r. and advertising agencies, and in 1952, he joined Chemstrand as director of global publicity and communications, being promoted to director of p.r. in 1963.
After Chemstrand, he joined Burlington Industries, where he served under Ely Callaway, who ran the mill through the late Sixties and early Seventies. While at Burlington, he arranged to build a miniature textile mill at the company’s New York offices on West 54th Street and Sixth Avenue. The street-level exhibit became a major tourist attraction.
After Burlington, he handled a string of clients in his own firm, including Dan River and the Nonwovens Association.
He was remembered by many journalists for the thoughtful and sometimes odd deliveries he’d make to newsrooms. While baked goods were most common, retired WWD managing editor Mort Sheinman recalled a more novel delivery in the early Seventies.“When I was named managing editor of the paper, Ted sent me a knapsack,” he said. “It contained just a lot of funny stuff, like a pair of roller skates to put on so I could get around the office faster and a box of red pencils for editing.”
Norman Karr, retired director of Jeanswear Communications and other industry associations, said he admired Shumeyko’s light touch in working with the press.
“He could tell the story of a company he was representing without making people feel their arms were being twisted,” he said. “You never had the feeling that you were up against the wall.”
Shumeyko is survived by his wife, Sylvia; three sons, Evan, Mark and Bob; a daughter, Susan Jill Muthere; two sisters, Annie Sedlak and Sophie, and seven grandchildren. He lived in Saddle River, N.J.
Funeral arrangements had not been completed by press time.
As for the toilet seat, that award went to retired WWD city editor Si Lippa. Lippa, then a reporter, had just broken the story of Seventh Avenue showrooms being burgled while staffers ran out to the rest room and Shumeyko apparently thought a cushy white toilet seat would be an appropriate way to commemorate the event.
“It was astounding,” recalled Lippa. “You know, this guy, he was an innovator. That was something...I may still have it.”
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