Reporter, PR man known for savvy

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
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In a career as a journalist and an automotive company spokesman that spanned more than five decades, Bernard F. “Moon” Mullins was widely respected and gained a reputation for being savvy.

“He was very inquisitive, very intelligent and very logical,” said his wife of 62 years, Mary Mullins. “He could see things for what they were.”

He relied on those traits during his 12 years as a reporter with the Detroit Times and 30 years as spokesman with Chrysler Corp. and later with Toyota Motor Sales.

Mr. Mullins died Aug. 1 from illness related to a stroke at his home in Stuart, Fla. He was 85.

In addition to his career, Mr. Mullins loved his family and came from a big one, his wife said.

“He was very kind and loving man,” she said. “He was also a good listener and good adviser.”

Mr. Mullins was born Oct. 9, 1928, in Detroit, one of 10 children. His family moved to Grosse Pointe Shores when he was about 7, Mary Mullins said.

During World War II, Mr. Mullins enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 18. He was stationed in Honolulu, serving on the USS Marsh and the USS Spangler, warships used as convoy escorts and to attack submarines.

After the war, he graduated from the University of Detroit with a degree in journalism, his wife said.

Mr. Mullins then joined the staff of The Detroit Times as a reporter and feature writer. He worked at the paper for 12 years until it closed in 1960, receiving several awards and honors for his writing.

He was given his nickname when he was a reporter, Mary Mullins said, but it stuck with him for the rest of his life. It came from the central character of the “Moon Mullins” comic strip that ran in American newspapers from 1923-91.

He later joined the public relations department of Chrysler Corp.’s Dodge Division and went on to hold positions at the company’s offices in Detroit and New York. During his 30 years with the automaker, he helped to launch the AMVETS-Dodge Operation Driver Excellence Program in 1967.

In 1998, he retired as director of worldwide sales and marketing and public relations.

Mr. Mullins then served for five years as a public relations consultant for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., the Japanese auto manufacturer’s North American arm. While at Toyota, he was instrumental in developing the Safe Driving Challenge Program, which was co-sponsored by AMVETS.

“He was the ultimate public relations professional and a great mentor,” said John McCandless, a long-time public relations professional for car companies in Detroit and who worked with Mr. Mullins at Chrysler.

“He was meticulous and always thinking,” McCandless said. “We didn’t have a lot of resources back then but he always found a way to get the job done.”

Car company executives and the press who covered the industry all knew Mr. Mullins and respected him, he said.

In 2003, Mr. Mullins, then 75, retired from consulting to spend time with his wife. Mary Mullins said they played golf, tennis and traveled. They also split their time between homes in Michigan and Florida.

He was a charter member of the Detroit Press Club, a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the International Motor Press Association, the National Motorsports Press Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the Automobile Information Council.

Mr. Mullins also was a member of AMVETSand established a national teenage safe driving program it sponsored with Chrysler.

Survivors include his wife and their four children, Jana Mullins, Monica Arnone, Sheila Hills and Matthew Mullins as well as eight grandchildren.

A memorial mass will be held at noon Aug. 25 at St. Paul on the Lake, 157 Lakeshore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Memorials may be sent to Treasure Coast Hospice, 1201 SE Indian St., Stuart, Fla., 34997.

(313) 222-2058

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