William A. McIlwain, 83, ad executive

William A. McIlwain
William A. McIlwain
Posted: September 29, 2012

William A. McIlwain, 83, of Malvern, a retired advertising executive, died of heart failure Thursday, Sept. 20, at Neighborhood Hospice in West Chester.

In 1967, Mr. McIlwain, who had been with agencies in New York City for several years, joined N.W. Ayer & Son, an advertising agency in Philadelphia. When the company moved to New York, he commuted from his home. He continued to commute after he joined Grey Advertising in 1972.

His son-in-law, Douglas Tietbohl, said he had a regular table at Runyon's, a Manhattan restaurant frequented by sports and entertainment celebrities.

Early in his career while working or the BBDO agency in New York, Mr. McIlwain was featured with a black eye in a cigarette ad that declared "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch." The ad appeared in TV Guide in 1964. 

"They needed a redhead and Bill had coppery hair," his wife, Lois Rapp, said.

He retired in 1991 as personnel director for Grey.

Mr. McIlwain was a graduate of Upper Darby High School, where he met his future wife. He earned a bachelor's degree from Middlebury (Vt.) College in 1951 and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

During the Korean War, he served on the front lines as an artillery spotter.

A talented athlete in his youth, Mr. McIlwain played golf for years every week with friends at Pickering Valley Golf Club in Phoenixville. He enjoyed playing cards and traveling with his wife, and was an avid sports fan and dog lover, especially of Newfoundlands.

In addition to his wife of 61 years and son-in-law, Mr. McIlwain is survived by a son, Robert; a daughter, Sharon Tietbohl; a brother; a sister; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at Mauger-Givnish Funeral Home, 24 Monument Ave., Malvern. Friends may call from 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

Donations may be made to Chester County SPCA, 1212 Phoenixville Pike, West Chester, Pa. 19380.

Contact Sally A. Downey

at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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