Local Obituaries

Ad exec who expanded roles for women in newsroom advertising departments dies at 84

Robert Holzkamp served as a Tribune Company vice president of sales and marketing executive. He had also held executive roles with Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune.
Robert Holzkamp served as a Tribune Company vice president of sales and marketing executive. He had also held executive roles with Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune.

Robert Holzkamp, who expanded the role of women in newsroom advertising departments as an executive with the Chicago Tribune and Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel, died on July 31 in Fernandina Beach in North Florida.

Holzkamp was 84 and had Alzheimer’s.

After leaving the Sun Sentinel in 1983 after a six-year run, Holzkamp, who began his career at the Chicago Tribune in 1956 as a classified advertising salesman, returned to the Chicago paper as its vice president and advertising director. When he retired in 1999, Holzkamp was vice president of sales and marketing for the Tribune Company, which had owned the Fort Lauderdale and Orlando daily newspapers.

When women were first hired for classified phone sales at the Chicago Tribune in the early 1960s, Holzkamp boosted their numbers to more than half of the classified staff.

He proved a mentor. “He was famous for his leadership, particularly in helping women develop careers in advertising sales back in the 1960s when it was still a male-only field,” said his daughter, Debbie Holzkamp, founder and president of HDS Premier Consulting. She started her ad sales career working for Tropic magazine at the Miami Herald in 1984 and rose to advertising director in 1997.

At this important moment in the history of the newspaper industry in America … the onset of the move from print to digital media, and the consequent economic sea change in the business, my father met the extraordinary challenges with courage and perseverance, while sticking to the fundamental values of communicating directly and honestly with people to see the job through.

Debbie Holzkamp in her book, ‘Virtanza’

In her book, “Virtanza: The Art and Science of Successful Selling for the Business-to-Business Sales Professional,” she wrote of Holzkamp’s role during Tribune’s sale of the New York Daily News in 1991.

“He began to place advertising people in the newsrooms who could find ways to communicate effectively with the staff. ‘I got through to them,’ he said, ‘because we cleaned up the obstacles that kept us from communicating.’ 

Holzkamp Jane Ameliaboat
Bob Holzkamp and his wife, Jane, on their boat in Florida’s Amelia Island. Debbie Holzkamp

When he lived in the Fort Lauderdale area, Holzkamp, who had served as an officer in the Army in the 1950s and a captain in the Reserves until 1968, could be found on his boat in Florida and the Bahamas. “The waterways were his life outside of his work,” Debbie Holzkamp said.

Holzkamp’s survivors also include his wife, Jane Holzkamp, his daughter Susan and three grandchildren. Services will be 11 a.m. Aug. 26 at Memorial United Methodist Church in Fernandina Beach. Donations to Barnabas in Fernandina Beach or Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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