Bob Mawhinney, a long-time employee of The Press of Atlantic City, who served as the newspaper's unofficial ambassador for years, died Monday. He was 66.
"When I first got here you literally could not walk down the street, walk into a restaurant or go to an event without having half the room come up and talk to him," said former Publisher Keith Dawn, who joined The Press in 1996. "Everybody knew him, and everybody who knew him liked him."
Mawhinney, of Absecon, had fought non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for more than a year, said his daughter Katie Epp.
Mawhinney was born in Atlantic City in 1946, she said, and graduated from Holy Spirit High School in 1966. After a tour in Vietnam, he returned to the region and took a job at the resort's former Lit Brothers department store.
There he met his wife, Gina Tuccinardi, Epp said. Within a year of meeting, they were married in September 1972. The following January, Epp said Mawhinney began working for The Press as a sales representative.
"He always talked about his work," Epp said. "He enjoyed his job. He got to meet lots of people. He was involved in every organization possible."
Mawhinney had three children: Bob Mawhinney Jr., in 1975, Christina Votta, in 1977 and Epp, in 1984. He involved them in many of his work activities. "The Press to us isn't just a regular newspaper," Epp said. "It's like a family history. We knew so many people. We knew everybody."
Mawhinney was eventually named the newspaper's marketing director, after other periods overseeing advertising and circulation departments. Former Editor Paul Merkoski recalled how Mawhinney was called on to defend the newspaper when advertisers complained about unflattering stories, photos or editorials.
"He had character. And integrity. And great personal decency," Merkoski said. "His experience, patience and deep concern for the company's reputability — and his own — helped us make a lot of wise decisions while avoiding some very dumb ones. A lot of dumb ones, actually."
In 1996, Mawhinney became the first non-publisher or owner to serve as president of the New Jersey Press Association. He retired in 2003, intent on trying something "new and different," Mawhinney said at the time. "What that means and where it will take me, I don't know, but I have an opportunity to do it."
In retirement he spent time with his grandchildren, Epp said, including Joey Votta, 13, Shannon Votta, 7, Molly Mawhinney 4, Keegan Mawhinney, 2, Logan Mawhinney, 1, and his latest, Gabriella Epp, born in September.
He also worked around the house, landscaped and worked with his brother-in-law, Lorenzo Tuccinardi, at his company, Interior Design Concepts.
Even after he was diagnosed with cancer in late 2011, Epp said he continued to be there for his family and friends. She recalled last spring, winding up in the hospital following complications between her diabetes and pregnancy.
"When I started waking up, I saw my dad walking to the hospital bed with his walker," Epp said. "As sick as he, was he was still there for us."
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