One of my earliest duties as president of the Page Society was to inform our members this week of the passing of a truly remarkable man, John F. Budd, Jr. I have not been surprised, but my heart has been warmed, by an outpouring of response from colleagues who remember John fondly:

“I knew John well and held him in high regard. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” – Ron Rhody, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications & External Affairs (ret.), Bank of America.

“John was a special leader.” – Bill Heyman, President, Founder and CEO, Heyman Associates, Inc.

“I enjoyed a ‘profound’ three-hour luncheon with John 20 years ago. It remains a vivid and wonderful memory all these years later.” – Bruce Berger, Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Advertising and PR, University of Alabama

“He was an inspiration, a thoughtful, gifted communicator and a rock of reality. We will greatly miss him. We need to place his photograph next to the word ‘Authentic.’” – Bruce Harrison, Chairman, EnviroComm International.

John was one of the pioneers in the Page Society, having joined in 1987 when he was senior vice president of public relations for Emhart Corporation, which is now Emhart Teknologies, a division of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. Prior to becoming a corporate chief communications officer, John spent 30 years at Carl Byoir & Associates, where he rose through the ranks to vice chairman. Post-Emhart, he founded The Omega Group, a boutique public policy consultancy. You can read more about John’s amazing career and many awards in the obituary provided by his beloved daughter, Tracy, which you can find here.

John was one of the first friendly faces I encountered when I became SVP of corporate communications at Aetna. He looked me up, invited me to lunch, and generously imparted that profound John Budd wisdom over the years.

John was a man of impeccable ethics and strongly held convictions. He did not mince words, and had little patience for gray areas. This admirable passion for doing the right thing the right way led John to an interest in corporate governance. He became a leader in the National Association of Corporate Directors and served on many boards.

He was also a prolific writer. His “Observations” newsletter was must reading for many of us for many years. A randomly selected issue from 2002 included this gem: Commenting on the standard “corporate speak” in Enron’s annual reports, Budd wrote, “But lofty goals and utopian visions have come a cropper, thanks to Chairman Kenneth Lay’s bald-faced statement that Enron, as a ‘partner in the community,’ had responsibility to conduct its business according to principles of ‘respect’ and ‘integrity,’ blah, blah, blah. Standard rhetoric no longer tolerated.”

As a member of Page, John was an advocate of seeing things in new ways and advancing new ideas. As he said of himself, John was a “pronounced foe of conventional wisdom and combatant of status quo.”

John Budd passed away on November 21, 2011, at his home in Clinton, CT. He was 88 years old. This strong, thoughtful, principled man leaves a great legacy, and he will be missed.