Thursday, April 19, 2007

I used to play these commercials really loudly, and hope my father would listen to them -- it didn't work

'Hugged your kid's' Jack C. Lewis dies
Idea came from bumper sticker
Burba, Paula. Louisville Courier-Journal, April 4, 2007, pg. B6.

Jack C. Lewis, who was responsible for popularizing the 1970s "Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?" slogan, died Sunday at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville.

Lewis, who lived in Frankfort, Ky., was 72.

He said he got the idea for the bumper sticker after seeing something similar while on vacation in South Carolina.

While commissioner of the Kentucky Bureau for Social Services — the agency overseeing foster care, adoptions and juvenile delinquency — Lewis had 10,000 red-and-white bumper stickers with the saying printed, with "Kentucky Department for Human Resources" in unobtrusive type below the "Have You Hugged Your Kid Today" slogan in bold red ink. That was in the spring of 1976.

Less than six months later, people were reported fighting over the stickers at the state fair, where the agency, which normally did not advertise, had to set a limit of one sticker per family.

"All my life I've been impressed by what it can do to touch someone's shoulder," Lewis told T he Courier-Journal in 1976. "Over 90 percent of juvenile delinquency — if that (hugging) were practiced in the home — wouldn't happen."

By the time he resigned from his position as commissioner in July 1978, more than 350,000 "Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?" bumper stickers had been distributed to all 50 states and 17 countries.

A native of Bell County, Lewis was a graduate of Union College and earned his master's degree in social work at the University of Louisville .

He had worked with children's institutions and had directed residential services for the former state Department of Child Welfare before becoming director of field services for the Social Services Bureau.

He became deputy commissioner of social services in 1974 and was promoted to commissioner in 1976. He left in 1978 to join the private sector but returned to state government in 1984 as deputy secretary of corrections. He later became commissioner of corrections, a post he left in 1996.


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