HUDSON, Ohio (May 23, 2003) — William L. Newkirk, a former vice president of public affairs for Goodyear, died May 21 in Cleveland. He was 78.
Mr. Newkirk became vice president of public relations in January 1980. Mr. Newkirk was one of the main voices for the company during Sir James Goldsmith's takeover bid in 1986—a move that was resisted in part because of the public outcry.
Mr. Newkirk later was named vice president of public affairs in August 1988—a title that reflected the expanded responsibilities of the position in the governmental affairs arena, Goodyear said. He retired in 1989.
Born in Cleveland in 1924, Mr. Newkirk served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 1947.
That same year, he joined the Findlay (Ohio) Republican-Courier as a reporter. In 1950, he went to work at the Associated Press, and six years later he was running the AP's Toledo, Ohio, bureau.
In 1959, Mr. Newkirk joined Goodyear's news bureau. Two years after he was promoted to assistant manager of that bureau in 1961, Mr. Newkirk headed to Chicago to manage the tire maker's Midwest Region public relations office.
He received a series of promotions after returning to Akron in 1966, ultimately being named director of corporate public relations in 1979 before his appointment to vice president.
Mr. Newkirk, who had lived in Hudson, is survived by his wife and two daughters.