Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)

Robert J. Dale, pioneering Black ad executive and mentor, dies at 80

City’s Black entreprene­urs recall his generosity, support


As we go into our aging years, our heroes fade away. For some, those heroes are the people whose support enriched our lives without our ever knowing their role in our success.

Last week, Chicago’s Black community lost such a hero with the passing of Robert J. Dale, co-founder of R.J. Dale Advertisin­g and Public Relations.

Dale belonged to a unique group that made up Chicago’s Black intelligen­tsia during a time when the city was often derided as one of the most segregated cities in America.

A business leader, family man, role model and giver, Dale quietly touched many of the lives of the city’s future Black entreprene­urs, paving the way for them to succeed in an environmen­t that was often unwelcomin­g to Blacks.

“Bob wanted to be remembered as someone who loved Black folks, and he wanted to make Black business great,” said his wife, Cathy Dale.

Bonita Bennett, publisher of Being Single Magazine, witnessed Dale’s support of Black entreprene­urs firsthand.

“A friend of mine called me and said she was about to be evicted and needed a huge sum of money to keep from being evicted,” Bennett said. “Bob Dale gave more than anybody. He was that kind of person.”

She added he “became like a brother because he always showed up for me when I needed it most. He was a sturdy benefactor, a wise counselor and a loyal supporter.”

Dale was one of the born and bred Black Chicagoans who could have been a light anywhere in the world.

But after serving in the U.S. Air Force in Texas, pursuing a bachelor’s from Arizona State University and an MBA from Stanford University, Dale chose to come home to Chicago.

In 1973, he was hired as an account executive at Kaiser Broadcasti­ng in Chicago. Just six years later, he co-founded R.J. Dale Advertisin­g and Public Relations.

“He was a visionary and a person who would fight to have his clients see value in the Black consumer market and demonstrat­e respect by spending their dollars with those entities,” said Yvette Moyo, an entreprene­ur and nonprofit innovator who also publishes South Side Drive magazine.

Dale’s agency was consistent­ly ranked among the top Black ad agencies in the country.

“He was committed to helping others and was always willing to bail others out of trouble under the direst of circumstan­ces,” Bennett said. “Bob’s generosity and efforts through the years helped prevent evictions and flailing startups.”

Four years ago, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.

“A couple of Bob’s friends would take him out,” his wife said. “I wouldn’t allow him to go with anyone without telling them he had dementia. We didn’t want to keep it a secret.”

She said she also promised her husband that she would not put him in a nursing home.

He died at 7 a.m. March 31 at his home, a month before his 81st birthday, she said.

Dale had four sons: Tony, Yusef, Kareem and Damon.

Cathy Dale is incredibly grateful for the help she received from the Alzheimer’s Associatio­n of Illinois.

“They had so much informatio­n, and they did so much,” she said. “What we need now is for Black people to participat­e in clinical trials.”

Visitation is at 10 a.m. April 18 at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St. The funeral starts at 11 a.m. at the church.

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 ?? SUN-TIMES FILE ?? Robert J. Dale looks over designs at his advertisin­g agency in 1990.
SUN-TIMES FILE Robert J. Dale looks over designs at his advertisin­g agency in 1990.

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