Obituary: John McGarry

October 22, 2021
By Staff Report

John P. McGarry Jr. of Bedford, NY and Boca Grande, passed away peacefully at home on October 7, 2021, at age 81, after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Villanova University, an Executive MBA from Harvard, and served in the National Guard. After working in sales at Humble Oil for four years, John joined Young & Rubicam on Madison Avenue as an Account Coordinator. He rose to Chairman and CEO of Y&R Advertising and Vice-Chair of Y&R Inc., spearheading new business development and working with clients on accounts including AT&T, the Walt Disney Company, the United States Army, Hallmark, KFC, Cadbury, Chevron, Kraft, Dr. Pepper, Sony, Citibank, and Colgate. 

In 1997, John was part of the management team that took Y&R public and orchestrated the agency’s subsequent acquisition by WPP. After an attempted retirement,  John founded mcgarrybowen in 2002. It was an independent advertising agency focused on helping its clients’ businesses with powerful creative campaigns. In the decade that followed, he amassed a client roster that included Verizon, JP Morgan Chase, Disney, Kraft, Chevron, Marriott, Pfizer, Crayola, United Airlines, Sears, Reebok, Procter & Gamble, and Honda. His agency was highly awarded and widely recognized at the time as the most successful start-up in agency history. His leadership and passion led the agency to three Agency of the Year awards from AdAge and Adweek. Ultimately mcgarrybowen was acquired by Dentsu Inc., and the agency’s success and expansion continued with offices in thirty-three countries today. Over the years, John donated his time and served on numerous boards focused on education and the arts including, the Caramoor Center for the Arts, Boy Scouts of America, United Negro College Fund, Dominican College, the Kentucky Opera, American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the Roundabout Theater. John is survived by his wife of 56 years, Gilda, his children Victoria and John III, and his grandchildren, Nell and Nicholas Hurley and Camilla and John C. McGarry. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s memory to the Michael J. Fox Foundation or the Boca Grande Health Clinic.