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John Jay Daly, PR Wizard

Matt Schudel

Everyone on the Obituaries desk has gotten to know John Jay Daly over the years. He took it upon himself to let us know when neighbors and local residents had died and drafted many obituaries that he sent our way.

The time has come, unfortunately, for Mr. Daly's obituary to appear in the Post.

I knew him as an affable, humorous PR guy with a ready quip who had an endless supply of fascinating tidbits of local history. I had no idea that he had developed the concept of "opting out" of direct-mail advertising campaigns back in 1970.

Mr. Daly had worked at the Post ages ago, when the paper was published at 14th and E Streets, NW, and was a member of the paper's E Street Club of veterans who worked in the old building before the Post moved to 15th and L Streets in the 1950s.

He once sent me a photograph, which I prize, of the old E Street newsroom on election night 1950, showing dozens of people milling about, smoking, talking on the phones and generally looking raffish. He was in the photo himself, at a youthful 21.

Mr. Daly ran his own PR and marketing agency for more than 30 years and was proud of his D.C. heritage. He was born and raised in the District and was the very first student to enroll at what is now St. Anselm's Abbey School, one of the most selective and prestigious Catholic high schools in the city.

His father, who was born in 1888, had been the drama critic at the Post, beginning in 1911. He began publishing a family newsletter in 1916, which Mr. Daly continued throughout his life. He occasionally sent me copies of the "Daly Greeting," which he dubbed the "The Only Daly Paper Published Annually."

He loved to laugh and enjoyed tripping people up with his devilishly difficult quiz of D.C. facts and lore. Typical of Mr. Daly, he kept the answers a closely guarded secret, and he didn't post them online at either his Web site or his Facebook page. But, what the heck, give it a try and see how many questions you think you know.

By Matt Schudel  |  August 29, 2009; 7:34 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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