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Agency Founder Patrick McGrath Dies

New York shop began in a suite at the Plaza Hotel

Patrick McGrath had Bronx roots.

Patrick McGrath, co-founder and former CEO of Jordan Case McGrath, died Saturday from complications related to prostate cancer at the age of 79. He lived in Pelham Manor, N.Y., and Quiogue, N.Y.

Founded in 1969, McGrath's agency began in a suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York with assignments from Angostura Bitters and politicians such as Robert Wagner, Bella Abzug and Francis Sargent.

In time, McGrath and original partners Helmut Krone and Gene Case built the agency into a major player that worked for the likes of Procter & Gamble, Hasbro, Quaker Oats, Smith Kline and Mennen.

The shop’s most memorable campaigns included “Zestfully clean” for Zest soap, “Thanks, I needed that” for Mennen Skin Bracer, “It’s the right thing to do” for Quaker Oats and “Tum-Ta-Tum-Tum-Tums” for the Smith Kline antacid. The Quaker Oats campaign starred Wilford Brimley, and boxer Joe Frazier was featured in the Mennen campaign.

The name of the agency changed through the years—in part through a merger—and in 1999, Havas bought what was then Jordan McGrath Case & Partners. Two years later, Havas aligned Jordan McGrath with sister shop Arnold.

Beyond his agency, McGrath served as president of the 4A’s, president and trustee emeritus of the Cancer Research Institute and co-founder and board member of the Women’s Sports Foundation. He also was a passionate golfer who played at clubs in Westchester Country, Puerto Rico and Scotland. In fact, he golfed in Scotland annually for the last 20 years of his life.

McGrath, the son of Irish immigrants Patrick and Mary McGrath, grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Fordham University. He also was an ardent Yankees fan, and his first job was as a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium.

Before starting his own agency, McGrath worked for Richardson-Vicks and Benton and Bowles.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Patricia; his son, James McGrath; four daughters, Maryann McNamara, Deann Snook, Brinn O’Rourke and Kristian Leno; a sister, Marie Milione; and 22 grandchildren.

Cox & Graziano Funeral Home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., is handling funeral arrangements. A wake will take place Wednesday at the funeral home, followed by a funeral service on Thursday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Pelham Manor, N.Y.

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