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Michael Herlehy, a great Chicago ad man, succumbs to Hodgkin’s disease

By: Lewis Lazare, Chicago Business Journal

Michael Herlehy, one of Chicago's most ebullient ad people, passed away Monday at the age of 46 from complications related to a long battle with Hodgkin's disease.

Always quick with a big laugh and a quip and a bit of local ad dish, the delightful Herlehy was a creative partner at Tom, Dick & Harry Advertising, a colorfully-named boutique ad shop founded by him and some of his friends and business associates from Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago, where Herlehy previously worked.

Though TD&H started with no clients and little money, his partners at the shop say he was a constant inspiration that helped them keep going in the early days. On the infrequent occasions when the phone at TD&H's first humble office did ring, Herlehy would reach for it and say: "Tom, Dick & Harry. Sorry, no Toms, Dicks or Harrys here, but hey, I'm Michael."

Herlehy first broke into advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi/New York, and then moved to Lord Dentsu & Partners. He grew weary of the ad scene in the Big Apple, however, and came to work for a small Chicago agency, where he developed a cult-like status when he created an award-winning self-promotion piece about his desire to flee the shop.

Of course, his boss found out about the ad and promptly fired Herlehy, who landed on his feet at the Hoffman York shop in Milwaukee, where he would stay until he came back to Chicago for a creative department job at Cramer-Krasselt.

Herlehy was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 2008. He went into remission after chemotherapy treatments. But the disease would return in 2009, when Herlehy started writing a blog recounting his battle with the illness. In one of his last attempts to conquer the illness, he underwent a stem cell transplant at Northwestern University Hospital here in Chicago last winter.

Michael Herlehy is survived by his wife Sherri and three children — Connor (15), McKenna (12) and Madison (3)

A memorial service for Herlehy is slated for Friday, May 17, at 3:30 pm at the Willow Creek Community Church, 67 E. Algonquin Rd., South Barrington, IL. 60010.

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