Miami publicist David Pearson reminisces on his time with ‘JFK and Bobby’

David Pearson sings a copy of ‘JFK and Bobby, Arnie and Jack ... and David’ on Feb. 12 at Books and Books in Coral Gables.
David Pearson sings a copy of ‘JFK and Bobby, Arnie and Jack ... and David’ on Feb. 12 at Books and Books in Coral Gables. South Florida News Service

Longtime Miami public relations agent David Pearson has self-published a memoir that provides a snapshot into his career and Miami’s history during the mid-20th century.

Pearson presented his new memoir, “JFK and Bobby, Arnie and Jack … and David,” on Feb. 12 at Books and Books in Coral Gables. His audience included some of Pearson’s closest friends and colleagues.

“He’s a wonderful person. Brilliant, very talented, and he’s a damn good friend,” said Tom Rainy, one of Pearson’s friends in attendance.

Pearson opened his presentation with a detailed retelling of his firsthand experience assisting in the preparations for President John F. Kennedy’s funeral after the assassination on the night of Nov. 22, 1963.

As a press officer in the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., Pearson helped the White House in arranging to receive the president’s body and in handling the press. He read segments from the book, revealing his personal experiences and insights.

During his presentation, Pearson told stories of his work with Florida politicians Bob Graham and LeRoy Collins. He also spoke about his involvement with President Lyndon B. Johnson, and about working alongside Collins during the Civil Rights Movement.

In the audience was Collins’ daughter, Darby Collins Smith, who provided Pearson’s introduction.

“David Pearson was at my father’s side, helping him make decisions about what could become of the civil rights struggle, and working together to bring people together and accept the Civil Rights Act of 1964. My father took a very special interest in David and his wife, and they often came over to our house. It was a very special relationship,” Smith said after Pearson’s presentation.

Pearson also read excerpts from stories of his work with Graham’s campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate. He talked about his work with Graham and Jimmy Buffett in Florida conservation and efforts to save the manatees.

He told humorous vignettes about his golfing experiences with sports celebrities such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Joe DiMaggio.

Following the event, Pearson autographed copies of his 158-page book for audience members. “I am absolutely overwhelmed and blown away by all my friends that came out here today, and I really, really appreciate it,” Pearson said as he signed copies.