Former DMA President Robert DeLay Dies at 96

Robert DeLay, 96, president of the Direct Marketing Association from 1959 to 1984, died Feb. 14.

DeLay also cofounded the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (now called Marketing EDGE) in 1966 and served on the board for 36 years.

"As president of DMA for an unprecedented 26 years, Bob’s vision for direct marketing transcended direct mail to include all forms of marketing and advertising around the world,” said JoAnne Monfradi Dunn, CEO Alliant, and president, DMA board of directors, in a statement.  “As a result of Bob’s work, DMA stands as the world’s largest marketing trade association."

DeLay served in World War II, including seeing combat duty in New Guinea and the Philippines. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

DeLay spent over a dozen years in advertising and PR posts before joining DMA in March 1959. In the 1970s, he headed up a public relations campaign to "establish data-driven marketing as a major marketing medium,” long before the Internet had turned that medium into the global force it currently is.

Following his exit from DMA, in 1984, he published The DeLay Letter, a direct marketing newsletter, and helped raise money for Marketing EDGE.

He retired to Tucson, Ariz., in 1998, where services will be held for him next month. 

Survivors include his wife, Renate; a son, Stephen; and a grandson.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Entrepreneurial Fund at Marketing EDGE, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.