John ‘Jay’ J. McNamara
John J. (Jay) McNamara was born in Yonkers, NY on March 7, 1934. He was the third son of James E. McNamara and Marie G. Brennan, both of New Haven, CT. He went to public schools, graduating from Gorton High School in 1952. He received a B.S. from Yale University in 1956. Later, while working in New York, he attended New York University at night, obtaining an MBA in 1962.
Upon graduating from Yale, Jay was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After completing the officer training course at the Basic School, Quantico, VA he served as an infantry officer in East Asia, first as a Platoon Leader, and subsequently as a Company Executive Officer. He was selected as Aide de Camp to General August Larson in 1957 and served in that capacity until his honorable discharge in 1958 as a First Lieutenant.
Jay spent twenty-five years in advertising in New York, becoming President of Young & Rubicam, Inc. in 1981. At the time Y&R was the largest advertising agency in America. In 1985, he became President of McCann-Erickson Worldwide as well as Chairman of McCann-Erickson North America. He was responsible for the operations of 140 offices in 70 countries. In addition to his management duties, Jay had overall stewardship of a variety of advertising accounts during his career, including General Foods, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Hallmark, Frito Lay, Metropolitan Life, Exxon and Coca Cola.
Jay’s book, Advertising Agency Management, was published by Dow Jones-Irwin in 1990. At the time, John O’Toole, President of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., said of it, “Advertising Agency Management is the most thorough, direct and knowledgeable book ever on the subject. Any agency that follows McNamara’s guidelines will do well indeed.” Later, and for fifteen years, Jay wrote monthly humorous essays for Gold Coast Magazines, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. A collection of those essays, entitled “Scribblings” was published in 2006, along with a novel entitled “Agency.” His three books are available on Amazon.com.
After leaving the Advertising business in 1990, Jay became Managing Director of Brand Licensing, Inc. and later Chairman of National Brand Licensing. He was creator of several national licensing partnerships, including those between Better Homes & Gardens magazine and Walmart; Car & Driver magazine and Target Stores; and Road & Track Magazine and Walmart.
Jay was active in civic matters, serving more than one hundred board-years, first in Pelham Manor, NY and later in Vero Beach FL. In Pelham Manor, he held seven public offices, five of them elected, culminating in becoming Mayor in 1989. He was Chairman of the Pelham United Way for two years and President of the Pelham Country Club for a similar period of time.
In Vero Beach, he served on the Boards of the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice, as well as the U.S. board of the VNA, the Education Foundation and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palm Beach. With land provided by the Archdiocese, Jay led the fund-raising effort to create the Samaritan Center, a building for the homeless, and acted as its first Executive Director.
He was Vice President of the John’s Island Foundation, a charity he helped found within the John’s Island community, where he resided for forty years. He was President of the John’s Island Property Owners Association from 2000 to 2002 and served on the board of the John’s Island Club from 2002 to 2005.
In 2000, Jay became a charter member of the Indian River County Boys & Girls Clubs and served as its Board Chairman for ten years, beginning in 2000. The Jay McNamara Boys & Girls Club was opened in Vero Beach, FL in 2010. He became the founding Board Chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs Foundation in 2013.
His former wife, Patricia Widmann of Lock Haven, PA passed away in 2004. He is survived by a daughter, Mimi Fredericks of Vero Beach, a son, Tony and his wife Amy of Wilton, CT and five grandchildren, Nicole, Justin and Allie Fredericks of Vero Beach, FL and Ryan and Megan McNamara of Wilton, CT.
The family will hold private services. A celebration of life reception will be held at the Strunk Funeral Home, 916 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL, Saturday March 4, 2023 from 2-4pm. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in honor of Jay McNamara, Indian River County Boys & Girls Club, 1729 17th Ave. Vero Beach, FL 32960 (772) 299-7449.