Published July 21, 2011
Leonard Markun, who served as the advertising representative of The Georgia Bulletin for over 40 years from 1956 to 1998, died July 5. He was 92 and lived in Chamblee.
He was a U.S. Army veteran, having served from 1942 to 1946.
A native of New York City, where he met and married his wife of 67 years, Cecile, Mr. Markun studied geology at Hunter College and came to Georgia in 1951 hoping to develop a practical process to extract the gold embedded in quartz. The venture proved to be financially infeasible and he turned to selling advertisements.
He began working for the Catholic newspaper in Georgia in 1956 with the installation of the first Atlanta bishop, Bishop Francis E. Hyland, and subsequently worked under eight editors and five archbishops. When he began, the Catholic paper was known as The Bulletin and had Savannah and Atlanta editions. When Atlanta became an archdiocese and established its own newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin, he continued to sell ads for it and for Savannah’s newspaper, The Southern Cross. However, he concentrated on the Atlanta area and The Georgia Bulletin. He saw its circulation rise from 3,000 to 57,000 when he retired in 1998.
John Markwalter, retired editor of The Southern Cross, who hired Mr. Markun, said in 1998 that he was “without a doubt the most totally honest person I have ever met.” Never disheartened, his contributions were vital, Markwalter said, particularly when the circulation of the Catholic newspapers was very small and the young Atlanta diocese had many parishes and ministries to launch.
Mr. Markun, who was Jewish, said that he remained with the work for four decades because of his regard for the newspapers’ mission and content. He was a great admirer of Pope John Paul II whose call to care for the poor reminded him of the words of Old Testament prophets to their generations.
“The paper appeared to me like an oasis in a jungle,” Mr. Markun said in 1998. “Once a week people could open a paper and see peace and love and decency. … I felt satisfied as to what I was doing and, in a way, proud of what I was doing. Most of the people I meet radiate a camaraderie and closeness with respect to the church itself. … This is the way I felt and I had a lot of fun too.”
At a memorial service held on July 10, his sons, Charles and David, spoke of their father’s impact on their lives, of his compassion throughout his life and of his wide-ranging and largely self-taught interests in mathematics, finance, shortwave radio and world events.
In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. Markun is survived by two grandsons and one great-granddaughter.