I received this email today and paused to reflect on the passing of a legendary man. He helped me. Thank you Jay.
On October 10th 2013 at 4:36 am, the world lost a bright light. Jay Conrad Levinson, the “Father of Guerrilla Marketing” passed peacefully on to his next great adventure while at his home in the loving arms of his wife, Jeannie Levinson, and surrounded by family after a two and a half year battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) a cancer of the bone marrow.
Jay was the author of the “Guerrilla Marketing” series of books. Guerrilla Marketing is the best known marketing brand in history, and has been named one of the 100 best business books ever written, with over 21 million copies sold. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that his books appear in 62 languages, and are required reading in MBA programs worldwide.
Jay was born in Detroit on February 10th 1933 to Robert & Sadelle (Cohen) Levinson and sister, Myrna (Levinson) Pope, raised in Chicago, Graduating from Hyde Park High School, He was an avid White Sox Fan and a pitcher in the Minor Leagues. He served two years in the US Army Counter Intelligence Corp. His genius level IQ earned him membership into the Mensa Society. Graduating from the University of Colorado, his studies in Psychology led him to advertising agencies, including a Directorship at Leo Burnett in London, where he served as Creative Director. Returning to the US, he joined J. Walter Thompson as Senior Vice President..
A winner of first prizes in all the media, including the both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, Jay has been part of the creative teams that made household names of The Marlboro Man, The Pillsbury Doughboy, Allstate’s good hands, United’s friendly skies, the Sears Diehard battery, Morris the Cat, Mr. Clean, Charlie the Tuna, Snap Crackle Pop, Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant, and Rolling Stone Magazine to name a few. In the 60’s he had the most ads running on TV at any one time.
Jay also worked closely with Hugh Hefner to help the marketing launch of Playboy Magazine and the first Playboy Mansion in Chicago.
In 1971 Jay left the corporate life and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he lived for the next 35 years. A proponent of work/life balance, he prided himself on earning a healthy living working only a three day week, while writing and teaching others how to do the same. He usually spent his four day weekends following his two favorite passions (other than writing) white water river rafting in the summer, and snow skiing in the winter.
In the early 1980’s, seeing the need for small business and entrepreneurs to be able to compete in the marketplace against huge Fortune 500 companies, Jay created Guerrilla Marketing and taught it for ten years at the extension division of the University of California in Berkeley
Young students in his class included the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Larry Ellison among others who went on with the marketing skills they learned from Jay to became legends in the upcoming computer and tech industries.
Entrepreneur magazine called him one of the foremost business marketing experts in the world. Jay has written over 100 business books. He and his wife, Jeannie co-authored several books and traveled the globe together speaking to students, entrepreneurs, and business large and small.
He was especially honored as being a national hero to many emerging Eastern European nations, who credited his writing of free enterprise, with helping them with the skills needed to break free from the Iron Curtain.
In 2004 Jay and Jeannie sold their home, bought a Luxury Motor Home, towed a Jeep, and spent the next few years “Full Timing” in their RV as they criss-crossed the country visiting national parks and grandchildren along the way. They eventually settled down in their lakefront home in DeBary, Florida, just outside Orlando, close to many of their grandchildren, which they called their own personal Disney World.
Jay Conrad Levinson lived a life that changed the world and touched profoundly the lives of everyone that knew him
On October 20th 2012, a memorial service was held with his family and many of his friends aboard the St. John’s Rivership, honoring his request to have his ashes sprinkled across Lake Monroe where he lived.
He also has some ashes sprinkled in the Sonoran Desert, one of his favorite places on Earth, along with some ashes sprinkled with a planting of a memorial tree in his front yard by his grandchildren.
And finally, as a world traveler, a portion of his ashes were placed in a bottle and set sail in the ocean along with his picture, biography, and a letter from his wife, asking anyone who finds him to take a picture and email her, telling where he was found, and then sending him back into the ocean to continue on his grand journey.
Jay is survived by his wife, Jeannie Levinson and five children: daughter, Amy Levinson (Dean Worgan); daughter, Ginger Adkins (Frank Adkins); son, Jeremy Huffman (Samantha Huffman); daughter, Christy Huffman (Tara Wenig); son, Joshua Huffman (Marissa Cart).
Grandchildren: Sage Scofield, Seth Pickett, Thurston Smith, Austin Adkins, Blake Adkins, Cali Adkins, Michelle Staruk (Michael), Steven Livernois (Kelsey), Heidi Livernois (Edgar), Elexa Hussien (Moe), Hayley Huffman (James), Zachary Huffman, Jon-Thomas Huffman, Ava Huffman, Alyssa Huffman, Leighton Huffman, and Caden Huffman.
Great Grandchildren: DeMarcus Johnson, Daute Johnson, Darren Johnson, Landon Staruk and Ethan Willard.
Nephews: Robert Pope (Aga), George Reskin (Peggy), Glen Reskin, Larry Meyerson (Debbie), Mitch Myerson,
Nieces: Gina Mandell (Joel), Nicole Wagner (Eric), Melinda Miller, Corliss Meyerson
Beloved Pets: Llaso Apso puppy, Monroe and Siamese kitty, Marilyn,
…and countless extended family, friends and colleagues who will all help carry on his wide-eyed excitement for life and his legacy of love.
All the best…
Jeannie & Amy Levinson
PS: We are now in the process of forming an advisory board for Guerrilla Marketing International, to seek guidance and leadership. To preserve, protect and grow Jay’s legacy, we’ve chosen one of Jay’s dear friends publishers, David Hancock of Morgan James Publishing to act as the director of this advisory board.