The creation of Al Neuharth’s USA TODAY artwork was an unforgettable chapter in the One Of A Kind story. My very first corporate commission was for this titan of the newspaper industry, a visionary who had seen it all and had it all. “Knock his socks off,” was my mandate to honor the USA TODAY Founder on the 5th anniversary.
A prominent sign “DO NOT open until John Curley is present” didn’t stop Neuharth from unveiling the collage at 7:00 a.m. on September 15, 1987. 63 years flashed before his eyes as he unveiled a 3 dimensional commemorative collage of his life story. Among the 100+ personal mementoes in the art was an exact duplicate of the 1926 Royal typewriter he started his journalism career, with the first edition of USA Today coming out of the carriage. There was relief all around when his executive assistant heard “…WOW!!!” coming from his office.
Excitement spilled into the following days when Mr. Neuharth and I met at a USA TODAY gala on the national mall. His words made me sure we had something that was extraordinary, meaningful for other company celebrations—and that this was a concept that could actually work.
Many years later Neuharth and I meet again in his office where his 3-dimensional art was still displayed “My grandchildren will get a kick out of it,” he said as he revisited the contents—from his World War II dog tags, “Reach for the Peach” button to faces of his key executives on the keys of the typewriter. It was an honor then and even more now to be a small part in creating an enduring legacy for this one-of-a-kind leader.