Advertising executive to be honored with this year’s “Spirit of Life” award

Originally Published in City of Hope

By Katherine Ullmer and Ray Marcano

spirit of hope awardHarrison Twp. resident Walter Ohlmann was only 10 years old in 1939, when the Nazis forced his family to flee their home in Frankfurt, Germany.

The family was Jewish and, in 1938, Ohlmann’s father was put in a temporary detention center with other Jewish males between the ages of 17 and 70. Once released, he took his family to England where they waited their turn to enter the United States.

“Both my parents were doctors,” Ohlmann says, “and only two states were accepting foreign-born doctors in 1941: New York and Ohio”. After a year in New York, the family moved to Dayton. “My father felt it was the most progressive of Ohio cities,” he says.

While Ohlmann, president of Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman, Inc., a local advertising adgency, didn’t follow in his parent’s career footsteps, he learned “the German work ethic” from them, putting the same dedication into community work as his professional life.

He’s served on numerous boards and committees for local services organizations, from the United Way to the Dayton Opera Association, the Dayton Flood Memorial Park Steering Committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton and the Senior Citizens Center Greater Dayton, among others.

“You get back from the community what you put into it,” he says.

For his service to the community, the Greater Dayton Executive Council, here, United Way, there’s a lot of things Chapter No. 998 of the city of Hope, recently voted him Dayton’s 1988 recipient of the city of Hope’s “Spirit of Life” award. He will be honored at a banquet Thursday at the Mandalay Banquet Center.

The city of Hope, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is a non-profit national medical center and research institute located in Duarte, Calif., just outside Los Angeles.

The fund-raiser could raise as much as $100,000 before expenses. There has been some criticism of the event because it benefits an out-of-town organization.

“A lot of people will say, “Look, I give to local charities… hospitals here. Why should I give to something way out in California?”” said Jack Mayl, council president for the local attorney. “But once you find out what they do it’s absolutely amazing.”

City of Hope provides medical care to people suffering from catastrophic illnesses, such AIDS. The hospital accepts payments from those who can afford it, but also treats 25 percent of its patients free. It’s not unusual for bills to run $100,000 or more, said Herb Ostrove, City of Hope’s regional director who is based in Cincinnati.

Ostrove said, “Dayton has been most generous” in contributing City of Hope. Last year’s banquet pulled in more than $26,000, he said.

Ostrove said he expects to raise more than three times that much this year because Ohlmann is widely known in the community and should attract more people.

Spokespersons for the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and United Way of the Dayton area had no position on the fund-raising activities.

United Way Executive Director Joel Davis said, “It’s up to the individual to evaluate it.”

Mayl expects 200 to 250 people will pay about $150 each to attend the banquet. Dr. Sanford M. Shapero, City of Hope’s president and CEO, will be the guest speaker. Brad Tillson, publisher of the Dayton Daily News, will be toastmaster.
For tockets, call the Cincinnati regional office of the City of Hope at 1-522-1382. Cocktails are 6:30 p.m.; dinner is at 7 p.m.

Penny Ohlmann Neimann

The Ohlmann Group has a rich history that began in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, where the agency was founded as Penny and Penny by Bob Penny and his wife Jean. In 1964, Walter Ohlmann joined the firm. Ralph Neiman came on in 1969 and the firm became Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman. In 2011, P/O/N was renamed The Ohlmann Group to better reflect the agency's ongoing evolution and collaborative nature.

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