Advertising, Fundraising Legend Claude T. Grizzard Jr. Dies at 98

Claude T. Grizzard Jr., the founder of the marketing and fundraising dynasty now known as Grizzard Communications Group Inc., died at his Atlanta home May 17 of congestive heart failure. He was 98.

After working for a lettershop from 1928 to 1933, Grizzard took over the business and built Grizzard Advertising into a full-service direct mail advertising agency.

In 1944, Grizzard made a foray into nonprofit fundraising and created his firm's first campaign for the Salvation Army in Atlanta, a client that the company now works with on a much broader scale.

In 1954, he formed fundraising consultancy Grizzard and Haas with Beatrice Haas, which later became Grizzard Agency. At that time Grizzard's son, Claude H. Grizzard Sr., was running Grizzard Advertising.

Grizzard sold Grizzard and Haas around 1990 and returned to Grizzard Advertising, where he continued to work until his death.

Today, Grizzard Communications Group Inc. consists of Grizzard Performance Group, the direct response advertising division, and fundraising division Grizzard Agency. Both are part of Omnicom Group Inc. Omnicom bought Grizzard from Marketing Services Group in July 2001 for $91.3 million.

Grizzard Communications Group is run by CEO and Grizzard grandson Claude H. “Chip” Grizzard Jr. Claude H. Grizzard Sr. is chairman emeritus.

To avoid confusion, Grizzard was affectionately known as “Mr. Jr.” around the office.

In an e-mail to Grizzard employees May 17, Chip Grizzard said, “It is with great sadness that I am writing to let you know that my Grandfather (Mr. Jr.) passed away this morning. For those of you who knew him, I think you will agree he was a wonderful man that touched us all in many ways. As we celebrate his life in the coming days, I hope you will think of all the wonderful ways in which he impacted your life. For those that did not have the opportunity to meet him, let me just say that he was a special person. He was full of integrity and compassion and loved his church and family. I am extremely proud of all that he accomplished and I can truly say he made this world a better place.”

Aside from his son and grandson, Grizzard also is survived by daughters Pat Leak and Martha Walton, sister Frances Dover, six other grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. A “Celebration of Life” service was held May 20 at Haygood United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

Senny Boone, executive director of the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation, said “The Grizzard name is synonymous with the highest-quality service to nonprofits in the area of fundraising. We are saddened by the loss of this amazing man, but we are confident that his legacy will continue through his company. Claude Grizzard was legendary.”

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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