May 10, 2021
The Briscoe Center mourns the death of Advisory Council member Julian O. Read, a nationally prominent public relations and public affairs expert, who passed away on May 8, 2021.
A pioneer in the business and political history of Texas, Read’s extensive archive is part of the Briscoe Center’s collections. The center published JFK’s Final Hours in Texas, Read’s behind-the-scenes account of Kennedy’s assassination and its fifty-year legacy.
Following the beginning of his career as a print journalist, he went on to found one of the first PR firms, Read-Poland Associates, which would merge five decades later with leading global firm Cohn & Wolfe. Throughout his public affairs career, Read represented clients ranging from Sigfried & Roy to Southwest Airlines and the DFW airport.
In the political arena, Read’s firm was retained by scores of prominent elected officials and political candidates, both Democrat and Republican. Read entered the political world when a young Don C. Kennard sought his help in 1952 to seek election to the Texas House of Representatives. In the years to follow, he won numerous campaigns from the courthouse to the White House. His firm once handled seven campaigns in the same election cycle.
Read did his first Presidential campaign for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. This work was followed by engagements for presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. As Governor John B. Connally’s press representative, he delivered the first eyewitness report of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the media.
Read was a champion of historic preservation. In addition to his service on the center’s council, he was a member of the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, the Austin History Center, and the LBJ Library.