HUBERT WILKE

  • "Jackie, It's with a heavy heart that I write this. There is..."
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Obituary

WILKE--Hubert. Hubert Wilke, age 98, died on August 4 in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Hubert, often called Hubie, pioneered the field of communications facilities consulting, founding the first company (Hubert Wilke, Inc., later The Wilke Organization), to specialize in this area. Working closely with the country's top architects, the firm designed projection systems, television studios, sound systems, video conferencing facilities and more, for corporations, educational institutions, and governments. Wilke offices in New York, Los Angeles and Brussels served clients across the globe, including 37 of the top 50 on the "Fortune 500" list. In 1994, Hubie was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the International Communications Industries Association. Born in Yonkers, NY, Hubie attended Gorton High School where he was a sportswriter for the school paper and led a seven-member dance band (with Sid Caesar on saxophone) that was broadcast on Westchester radio station WFAS. From high school, he went directly to work as a radio announcer in Florida (and later at stations in New York and Charleston, SC). His announcing jobs ranged from newscasts to big band "remotes" to play-by-play for spring training baseball games. To promote the opening of the Charleston station he had the gumption to land interviews with such notables as Bob Hope, Gloria Swanson, Walter Huston and Perry Como, and Mel Allen. During World War II, Hubie was stationed at Fort Knox, KY, where along with training armored tank operators, he organized and emceed weekly entertainment programs. After the war and a brief stint in Hollywood writing for "Talent Scout" magazine, he worked as an advertising agency radio/TV producer in New York, where his credits include the shows "Crimes of Carelessness", "We the People" and Grantland Rice sportscasts. In 1957, Hubie accepted a marketing position with the Group Communications Division of Teleprompter Corporation, which exposed him to the potential of emerging communication technologies. He focused on the importance of key design principles such as system integration and future flexibility; this eventually coalesced into the vision for the independent consulting firm he founded in 1965 and led for over 20 years. Two years after "retiring" in 1986, Hubie joined the acoustical consulting firm Shen Milsom. For the next seven years, he helped the newly renamed Shen Milsom Wilke successfully expand its services in communications facilities design. Beyond his career accomplishments, Hubie helped found and served as president of the "Bedside Network," where volunteer radio/TV professionals provide "participation therapy" by putting on shows with hospitalized vets. In addition, he served for 10 years as chair of the Mid-Hudson chapter of United Way. Hubie loved spending time at the family summer home on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut. He enjoyed touring visitors around the lake, taking the kids and grandkids waterskiing and tubing and catching the wind on his sailboat. Special interests of his included big band and jazz music, playing tennis and ping-pong, and editing countless hours of videos of trips and family events. He was a sharp dresser, known for striking sports jacket and plaid pants combos, his penchant for ascots and for wearing shorts all year long. Hubie greatly valued the many close friendships he made throughout his life, including his 14 years at Kendal on Hudson. He will be remembered for his outgoing nature, generosity, determination and can-do optimism. He is survived by his devoted family: Jacqueline (Jackie), his wife of 61 years, sons Kenneth and Richard, daughters- in-law Beth and Carol, and grandsons Drew, Alex, Connor and Tucker. A celebration of his life will be held in September in Westchester, NY. For more information, please contact the family at [email protected]. In lieu of flowers, a gift to in Hubie's memory is encouraged.

Published in The New York Times on Aug. 11, 2019
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