Gene DeWitt, a 40-year media agency veteran, died on Jan. 22 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Over the course of his career, he ran media departments at BBDO and McCann Erickson, and in 1984 he founded DeWitt Media. DeWitt sold his agency to Publicis in 2000 and it became the core of Optimedia, which he ran as chairman and CEO until 2002.
DeWitt also served a two-year stint as president and CEO of the Syndicated Network Television Association, the New York-based trade organization.
For the last six years, he ran a consultancy, DeWitt Media Strategies. He was frequently quoted in news articles about the latest media trends and wrote guest columns for various publications. He also wrote a blog that was featured on his Web site.
A dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, DeWitt explained to his readers why he continued to consult, even though he could have comfortably retired years ago: “To me this is a lot more fun than golf in Boca. The constantly changing nature of the media world has kept me engaged professionally for all of these years and the current turmoil makes it even harder to disengage. Luckily for me I love to learn new things: technology things, art things, media things. So what would I do all day if I didn’t continue to consult, buy and plan media and blog? I prefer not to imagine the scenario as I thrive on following and analyzing the world of media, mastering the new outlets and combining them with the ones that’ve come before.”
DeWitt is survived by his wife Diane; a daughter, Kate; and four step-daughters and their husbands: Anna and Andrew Silverman, Stacey and Remy Bertin, Elexis and Christopher Lewis and Jacqueline Mariash; as well as by his grandson, Cooper Silverman. He is also survived by his mother Ann DeWitt, sister Patricia DeWitt and niece Annie DeWitt.
DeWitt was an avid supporter and contributor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Metropolitan Opera and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Saint Bartholomew’s Church via www.stbarts.org/donation.asp.
Services will be held at Saint Bartholomew’s Church on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 3 p.m.