Robert F. Hurleigh, 68, the president of the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1956 until 1968, died Sunday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda after a heart attack.
Mr. Hurleigh was born in Salisbury, Md., and grew up there and in Washington. He began his career as a page at the old Fox Theater in Washington, which later became Loew's Capital. His voice as a page attracted the attention of the theater's music director, Phil Lampkin, and Lampkin suggested that he try radio.
Mr. Hurleigh took this advice and got a job on station WFBR in Baltimore. He later was with station WFND Frederick, Md. and then returned to Washington, where he joined station WOL.
In 1941, Mr. Hurleigh joined the Associated Press and went to work in its Chicago bureau. While there, he began broadcasting summaries of war news over station WBBM and in that way came to the attention of Col. Robert McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago's station WGN, a major broadcast outlet in the Midwest.
Mr. Hurleigh joined the staff of WGN and later moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1955, Mutual assigned him to Washington, where he was a commentator with Fulton Lewis Jr. and also ran the network's Washington operations. A year later, he was named president of Mutual.
His resignation in 1968 followed a heart attack.
In 1974, Mr. Hurleigh returned to Mutual as a commentator. In recent years, he had been a communications consultant in Washington and at the time of his death was president of the National News Service.
Mr. Hurleigh was a founding member of the Chicago Press Club and a former president of the Radio-TV Correspondents Association in Washington. He also was a member of the board of governors of the Loyal Order of the Moose.
Survivors include his wife, Majorie Marie, of Bethesda, where Mr. Hurleigh lived; two sons, Robert George Blake Hurleigh of Williston Park, N.Y., and Steven Langford Hurleigh of Charlotte, N.C.; three daughters, Robin Marie Hurleigh, Jan Theresa Hurleigh and Maryland Elizabeth Hurleigh, all of New York City; his mother, Elizabeth Lort of Washington; a half-brother, Walter Blake of Washington, and six grandchildren.