Mr. Pukelis

Mr. Pukelis

A ‘solid reporter and a good man’

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Louis Pukelis, former Southwest News-Herald reporter 

By Joan Hadac

Louis George Pukelis was an award-winning publicist and high-profile government spokesman and speechwriter.

A native Southwest Sider, he died July 11 at age 57.

GSWNH LouisPukelis 072922

Mr. Pukelis

Mr. Pukelis was a marketing, public relations and crisis communications professional. His career included work as an association executive, and in senior positions with Chicago area firms–including two of his own. Late in his career he became a ChicagoNow blogger specializing in PTSD and related issues.

Early in his career—in the late 1980s–he was a top news reporter for the Southwest News-Herald, covering major issues affecting the Southwest Side.

“It was a privilege to call Louie Pukelis a colleague,” said current Greater Southwest News-Herald Editor Tim Hadac. “He was smart, inquisitive, assertive, highly motivated and had a bright and engaging personality that put people at ease and made it easy for them to open up and speak candidly. He was a solid reporter and a good man.”

Mr. Pukelis grew up in Garfield Ridge, near 58th and Melvina. He attended Kinzie Elementary School and went on to Kennedy High School, where he graduated in 1982. He then earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University/Carbondale, where he was a student leader and majored in radio/television news and production and minored in journalism.

After a successful run at the Southwest News-Herald, Mr. Pukelis launched a 30-year career in public relations, first with the Dairy Council of Wisconsin.

As someone who grew up within walking distance of both Midway Airport and the Belt Railway of Chicago train tracks, Mr. Pukelis had a lifelong interest in transportation and related issues. His professional work reflected that. He served with AAA Chicago as its managing director of public affairs for six years. Years later, he played key communications roles relating to the Illinois Department of Transportation Dan Ryan/Kingery reconstruction projects, the Illinois Tollway Congestion Relief Program and the U.S. 41 Relocation Project/

Mr. Pukelis also worked as a State of Illinois employee in a number of public communications roles, most notably with Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Financial & Professional Regulation, Insurance, and the State Fire Marshal.

He served as a public communications advisor to Governor Pat Quinn and helped write speeches for him on several issues.

Mr. Pukelis also worked outside government for several public relations firms, including ones he founded. His work earned a number of accolades, including the prestigious Golden Trumpet Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

He also had an abiding interest in history and served informally as historian for his family.

A resident of Aurora, Mr. Pukelis was the longtime husband of Nora; father of Louis and Kelsey; son of the late Edward Sr. and the late Joan; brother of Edward Jr., Susan Burke and Judy Caiafa; and uncle of many nieces and nephews.

Services were July 16 at DuPage Memorial Chapel in West Chicago.

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