Obituary: Andrew Chancellor / Former PR executive, journalist known for his perfectionism

Jan. 13, 1920 - April 5, 2013

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A stickler for accuracy, former journalist Andrew Chancellor wanted his obituary to get everything right. So he wrote the first draft himself and distributed copies to family members.

"I've had it for years," Mr. Chancellor's nephew, Bryan Campbell of Peters, said.

Mr. Chancellor, a cerebral writer and editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who later enjoyed a second career in public relations, died Friday at Presbyterian SeniorCare in Oakmont. He was 93.

He was born Jan. 13, 1920, the son of Andrew and Isabelle Bryan Cancelliere. The family lived in the city's East End, said Mr. Campbell, who was named for his grandmother.

Mr. Chancellor, who Anglicized his Italian surname, graduated from Central Catholic High School in Oakland about 1936 and from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, about 1940.

As a Navy lieutenant during World War II, Mr. Chancellor participated in the invasions of Normandy and Okinawa. He served as a deck officer and communications officer and received the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V." He also attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Annapolis, Md.

In May 1945, The New York Times identified Mr. Chancellor, then 25 and a communications officer aboard a destroyer off Okinawa, as the first witness to "the new Japanese 'Baka bomb,' a rocket-propelled suicide plane launched from a heavier aircraft." Caught off guard, Mr. Chancellor's ship still managed to shoot down the plane.

The paper quoted Mr. Chancellor as saying conditions about the destroyer were so hazardous that "you don't get relieved, you are replaced."

Journalism ran in the family. Mr. Chancellor's grandfather, Marion Cancelliere, founded an Italian newspaper in Pittsburgh, and his father also worked in the field before going to medical school, Mr. Campbell said.

After the war, Mr. Chancellor worked first for Pittsburgh's Bulletin Express and then for the Post-Gazette, where he wrote editorials, served as city editor, took on special assignments and worked as a columnist and assistant to the publisher.

"You never would have wanted to work for him because he was a perfectionist in an imperfect business," said Mr. Campbell, who is the attorney for the Pittsburgh police union.

In 1953, Mr. Chancellor traveled to the Middle East and filed a special series of reports for the Post-Gazette and its sister paper, The Blade, of Toledo, Ohio. Among other topics, he wrote about a Saudi Arabian soccer match ("no Saudi women, of course, were present"); the Lebanese ("the world's best traders"); and Tehran ("as phony as a movie set").

"It looks modern. But you soon learn it isn't at all what it looks," he said of the Iranian capital, citing filthy, open-air gutters.

In 1967, Mr. Chancellor moved to New York City to work for Hill & Knowlton, an international public relations and public affairs consulting firm. He rose to the positions of vice president, senior writer and corporate counselor.

After retiring in 1985, Mr. Chancellor moved back to Pittsburgh.

Mr. Chancellor never married. Besides Mr. Campbell, he is survived by his sister, Agnes C. Campbell of Plum; a niece, Judith M. Schadt of Fox Chapel; and another nephew, Douglas A. Campbell of Fox Chapel.

A private blessing service will be held Monday at Homewood Cemetery.


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