Bernardy, BBDO Veteran, Is Remembered

LOS ANGELES A retired ad executive today remembered Jack Bernardy, a career-long BBDO executive, who died at his Maine home in March at the age of 80.

“He was one of the very few men I’ve known who I would trust with my life,” said Buzz Brown, who worked with Bernardy at BBDO for 10 years and became his partner at Brown, Bernardy, Van Remmen from 1981 to 2000. “He was the quintessential advertising man because he was a superb marketing strategist and brilliant copywriter.”

Born in Cleveland, Bernardy worked on the ore boats of the Great Lakes as a teenager and later joined the Merchant Marines, in which he served during World War II. After the war he became a copywriter and entertainment critic for the Washington Post, graduated Washington University, then returned to active duty as an Army sergeant during the Korean War.

In 1955, Bernardy joined the Pittsburgh office of an agency then known as Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn, handling accounts such as U.S. Steel, Western Airlines, Pepsi-Cola and Dodge. By1963, he had risen to vice president and moved to Los Angeles in 1971 to manage BBDO there until his retirement in 1980. He co-founded Brown and Bernardy, an industry recruitment firm, until he retired to Sedona, Ariz., then later to Maine.

“First-class leg space,” “Three feet for your two legs,” hundreds of commercials featuring the Very Important Bird and the “Western Airlines, the only way to fly” tagline were among Bernardy’s creations in the 1970s.

“He had an excruciatingly painful wit. He could open you up with a scalpel and dismantle an ego,” said Brown. “I will miss him.”

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jeanne (Spiers), two children and five grandchildren.

A memorial service at sea is being planned for the summer.