Leo-Arthur Kelmenson of New York City and Remsenburg, died at his Remsenburg home, Land’s End, on August 30, at the age of 84.
Born in New York City, Leo served with the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II First Parachute Division in the Pacific Theatre, South Pacific operations. He was awarded the Navy and Marine medal, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, a Meritorious Unit Citation for bravery on the battlefield and was a Reserve Lieutenant Colonel. His Marine service was among his most proud achievements.
Leo was a visionary in the world of advertising and marketing. He was Chairman of the Executive Committee of Bozell Worldwide (Advertising), Inc. and, previously, was Chairman and CEO of Kenyon & Eckhardt, Inc. (K&E). He also held senior management positions at Norman, Craig & Kummel and Lennen & Newell, where he began his career in the mailroom.
As advisor and confidant to Lee Iacocca, Leo contributed significantly to the turnaround of Chrysler Corporation in 1979. He was credited for restoring Chrysler’s reputation in the eyes of the industry and the car-buying public.
Leo received numerous honors and awards for his service outside of the advertising industry, including the Guggenheim World Peace Award (1951), the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award as The Outstanding Young Man of 1955 in charity, art, athletics and business thus upholding Theodore Roosevelt’s belief that, “No man be dedicated to one venture or activity but to maintain a multitude of endeavors which each in its own way leads to the enrichment of human life.”
Mr. Kelmenson was awarded the Silver Quill Poetry Award in 1955 for ‘Epilogue”, a book of poetry, reflecting his wartime experiences, the American Jewish Committee’s Human Relations Award, the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Award (1989) and the Reserve Officers Association Award (1963). In the early 60’s, he served in the White House as the Special Project Officer for the U.S. Department of State under President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
He graduated from Columbia University and studied at the Career Diplomat School of the University of Geneva. His philanthropy was widespread. He served on many Board of Directors among them The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the President’s Council of the American Diabetes Association, the National Cancer Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation and the United States Olympic Committee. He was a founding member of the African Medical & Research Foundation.
He is survived by his wife Gayle, their daughter, Philippa, his sons, Todd and Joel, and two grandchildren, Lana and Kyle.
A memorial service will be held on October 12, 2011 at The Paley Center for Media in New York City.