Norman R​. Tissian, 76, Business Executive, Collector, Philanthropist and Lover of Art and Theater



Norman Reed Tissian, 76, a prominent Center City resident, longtime advertising agency executive, philanthropist, noted expert in marketing and city tourism, and respected civic leader, died Sept. 12 at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Born and raised in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia, Tissian graduated in 1948 from Northeast Philadelphia High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1952 from Temple University. He worked as a buyer for John Wanamaker, and was an executive vice president of the Kiddie City Toy Stores.

Tissian joined Spiro & Associates as an account executive when it was a small advertising agency. As it grew to become one of the most prominent in Philadelphia, he eventually became executive vice president and head of the agency's national hospitality division. He continued to be recognized nationally as an expert in travel and tourism, and served locally on the board of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

In 1980, Tissian was named president of the agency. He continued to serve as president until the agency was sold to the Earle Palmer Brown Companies in 1987, when he became vice chairman of what became known as Earle Palmer Brown & Spiro.

For more than four decades, Tissian was responsible for marketing and advertising programs for numerous independent hotels and resorts, including the Plaza in New York, the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, the Stanford Court in San Francisco and Deer Valley in Utah; international hotel chains such as Americana, Princess, Omni, Dunfey, Trusthouse Forte, Sonesta; as well as the Preferred Hotels Association.

He officially retired in the late 1980s, but continued to be active in the community, serving as officer or member of such organizations as the Center City Residents Association, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the Walnut Street Theater, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Prince Music Theater, the South Street Headhouse District and the Wilma Theater.

He was also especially proud to serve as president of the Society Hill Civic Association for two years.

A huge supporter of the arts in Philadelphia, he collected art and antiques.

Tissian is survived by sons A.J. Tissian and Gabe Tissian; sister Miriam Tissian; brother Larry Goldberg; and nieces and nephews.

A public tribute will be held on Monday, Oct. 23, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Contributions in his memory can be made to: the Norman Tissian Scholarship Fund, c/o The Star Foundation Inc., 235 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103.


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