James V. Ficco III, who was compelled to step down as president of Ketchum Advertising in Pittsburgh last fall after a recurrence of leukemia, has died at 43.
Ficco was first diagnosed with the disease in 1996, forcing him to take a six-month leave from the agency. A relapse last September led to his resignation.
"Jim was always the guy blazing the trail and finding a new way to do things," said Dave Egan, who worked with Ficco for 15 years and took over as president upon Ficco's departure. "The two things I'll remember are his intellect and his undeniable will."
Ficco joined Ketchum in 1981, rose steadily and was named executive vice president, chief operating officer, 10 years later. He was named president and elected to the board of directors in January 1994.
For many years, Ficco was closely associated with Ketchum's Digital Equipment Corp. account, and spent weeks in Boston getting to know the business, Egan said. His intensity on the accounts he handled and in preparing new business pitches was palpable, Egan said. "I used to say he was the only advertising Green Beret I know," Egan said.
Ficco was a member of the board of directors for the American Advertising Federation, the Pittsburgh Film Office and Pittsburgh's City Theater. He previously served on the board of Carnegie Mellon University's Graduate School of Industrial Administration.
Ficco is survived by his wife, Anne Marie, and two daughters, Natalie and Grace.