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Jim Lindsey: 1933-2012

Advertising Executive, Civic Activist


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nations, states, and communities derive their character and success from the talents and participation of their people. Jim Lindsey was rich in talents and generous in his participation, and the Santa Ynez Valley grieves from not having him around any longer.

Jim’s early days were in Tucson, Arizona, where he grew up as an average American kid, except he always seemed to be brighter than his friends and contemporaries. His personality, intelligence, and abilities brought this Arizona kid a Princeton scholarship, with all its benefits and culture shock.

During his Princeton days, he joined a group of pals for a debutante party where he fell forever in love with a young woman named Charlotte Roesler, who had emigrated from post-war Holland. He graduated on a Tuesday, and they married on Saturday. Their 50-plus years of marriage brought two daughters and a son, and now a host of grandchildren.

His post-war career eventually brought him to the famous advertising firm Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, which was later bought out by the famous Saatchi & Saatchi. Soon into his career, he was assigned to the fledgling Toyota account. Post-war Toyota was an ambitious car company that enjoyed rapid growth and acceptance in Japan and Asia, and in the ’60s turned its expansion plans to America. By design, they hired an advertising firm that had no experience in the automotive promotion area. With Lindsey a principal on the account, Toyota and the advertising firm made history in the creation of image and incredible sales growth.

The publicity campaigns “You asked for it, you got it” and “Oh what a feeling,” featuring people jumping for joy with a new Toyota in the background, soon brought them great success. Toyota made a good product, but, additionally, a truly exceptional advertising campaign drove it toward becoming the largest car company in America and the world. The Japanese company, which loved Jim as well as Toyota’s amazing success, insisted that Jim move to Toyota’s Los Angeles headquarters.

Jim and Charlotte moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in the mid ’80s, when his career moved from consultancy to full retirement. But the quiet life was not in Jim’s character. He soon became involved in community work, including Rotary and many good valley causes. His outstanding service involved St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, where he became senior warden; the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA; and the local hospital foundation that was to become part of Cottage Hospital. His fundraising energy brought success to his projects beyond anything the valley had previously experienced. The Valley Foundation awarded him its 2010 Lifetime Achievement award.

Tragically, his health began to deteriorate with the onset of cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and treatments and failing abilities became his major concern. We were good pals and often enjoyed a glass of whiskey and chatter. As time went on, he was less able to leave home, and the beverage became considerably watered down. He knew he was failing and he did not complain, but he felt the pain and debilitation, and fully realized his future prospects were bleak. Around Christmas last year, he took an obvious turn for the worse.

Fortunately, his doctor recommended the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care services, one of the hero organizations in our community. Charlotte and some of the family who were supporting her at that time were in deep distress, and the nurse brought competence, experience, practical help, and peace to the Lindsey household. Jim died at home; the presence of the Visiting Nurse service enabled family and friends to survive their personal grief and loss with far less trauma than would otherwise have been the case.

We are holding a reception to honor the memory of Jim Lindsey and also to recognize the compassionate care and support Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care brought to the Lindsey family, and continues to offer to our community. The event will be at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum on Sunday, November 4, from 5-7:30 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Rachel Wilkinson at rachel.wilkinson@vnhcsb.org or at (805) 690-6261.

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