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Alfred Fleishman, co-founder of one of the world’s largest public relations firms, Fleishman-Hillard, died Tuesday May 28 at his home in Creve Coeur, Mo., after a brief illness. He was 96.

Fleishman and longtime friend Robert Hillard created their firm in 1946 — not long after Fleishman finished serving as a major in the Army Air Forces, primarily as a public information officer at the Pentagon. Soon they recruited clients that included some of St. Louis’ biggest companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Emerson and May Department Stores.

Fleishman-Hillard is now the world’s second-largest public relations company, with 2,300 employees in 83 offices.

Hillard died in 2000 at age 83. Fleishman retired in 1975, though he continued writing a column for the St. Louis Business Journal. He also wrote three books on semantics and lectured around the U.S.

His wife of 58 years, Lucylle Magid Fleishman, died in 1987. He is survived by his sister.