William J. Blackshaw -- devoted husband, loving father, World War II veteran, advertising executive, master of creativity and conversation, and selfless friend to so many -- passed away on Tuesday, October 30th. He touched us all in so many ways, and he will be deeply missed. You are welcome and encouraged to leave a comment to the right. Funeral and memorial service details are listed here. A devoted husband of longtime civic leader Jeanette "Jay" Blackshaw, he is survived by seven children – Julie, Mary, John, Gina, Peter, Annie, and Amy – and thirteen grandchildren (with at least another on the way). A New Jersey native who spent countless summers on the Jersey Shore, Blackshaw attended Trenton Catholic and later St. Johns University in New York on the GI bill. During World War II, he served in India in the Air Force’s 59th Service Group of the 377th Air Service Squadron. His unit served planes headed over the Himalayas (The Hump) to aid General Stillwell’s India-Burma-China theater. (See Bill's video reflections on the war.)
After the war, he briefly entered the restaurant business, founding “White Tavern.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he was discovered by Madison Avenue as a promising young talent. His extensive career in advertising started at BBDO offices in Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles, ultimately landing at Hollywood-based Eisaman, Johns & Laws, then one of the West Coast’s most successful independent agencies. (See Bill's video reflections on the advertising industry.) Prominent clients included Chevrolet, Penzoil, Kahlua, Alpha Beta, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), Great Western Savings, Cooper Tires, and Suzuki. He wrapped up his advertising career independently managing advertising for the Southern California Association of Mercedes Dealers.
A lover of literature, history and classical music, especially Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, Bill had a passion for the arts, including amateur photography, a skill carried over to several of his children. He loved skiing, road trips, spending time with family and friends. Known for his gifted wit, he had a special affection for the poetry of Robert Service, Billy Collins and Rudyard Kipling. Forever asking questions, and ever fascinated with others’ feelings and experience, he lived his own maxim:
"To be interesting, you've got to be interested."