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Roby Harrington, 1929-2024

June 13, 2024
By Boca Beacon

Roby Harrington III died peacefully at his home in Manchester, VT on May 31 surrounded by family and friends, he was 95. Retired Chairman of the Y&R Group, Roby is survived by his children Roby IV, Scott, Todd, and Sue, ten grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 66 years Carol (Whit) Whitney Harrington.

Born May 5, 1929 in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Roby grew up in Connecticut, graduating from St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, CT in 1947. His years at St. Luke’s shaped Roby, and as an actor, athlete and avid reader he went off to Princeton graduating with Honors in 1951.

He served as an officer in the Marine Corps during the Korean War and married Whit in 1952. Following his service, he began a career in brand management, first at Procter & Gamble and then joined Young & Rubicam (Y&R), the international advertising agency based in NYC, in 1961. After 31 years, he retired as chairman of the Y&R U.S. National Group and sat on its Board of Directors.

After raising their family in Darien, Connecticut, where both Roby and Whit worked with, and supported, literacy, conservancy, and arts organizations as well as educational institutions, they retired to Dorset, VT and Boca Grande, FL where their charitable efforts accelerated. Roby has served on the Southwestern Vermont Health Care Foundation Board of Directors and offered his time and experience to the boards of many non-profit organizations. (He was always particularly proud of the advisory role he played in the formation of Teach for America.) He was an active member of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation well into his 90’s.

Roby maintained a huge network of friends, the phone in his home was constantly ringing. His quick and curious mind had him always ready with an opinion or book recommendation. An avid golfer, he was an active member of the U.S. Seniors for many years and a member of more than a dozen clubs over his lifetime including Pine Valley where he had been a member since August 10, 1950. (At his passing he was the longest serving member of Pine Valley – 73 years nine months.)

Roby would surely say his greatest achievement was convincing Whit to marry him. She was the center of the family and made the Harrington home a place everyone loved to visit. At Whit’s passing, Roby and his family relied on the wonderful Bridget Andrews to keep the home full of banter and warmth. Roby always had confidence in his opinions, and Bridget was the only person ever able to consistently get him to change his mind. The family is forever grateful to Bridget, and the amazing team she assembled, for her care of both Whit and Roby over the past nine years.

A celebration of Roby’s life will be held on July 27 at 2 p.m. at the United Church of Dorset (143 Church Street Dorset, VT) with a reception to follow at the Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester, VT.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Camphill Hudson, Greenagers, Inc, Southern Vermont Art Center, or St. Luke’s School.