Jonah Gitlitz, who served as president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association from 1984 to 1996, died on July 29 at age 92.
Gitlitz led the association during a period of explosive growth for direct marketing. But it was a time fraught with peril as consumers and regulators became increasingly concerned about privacy.
The DMA faced postal hikes and a plethora of regulatory issues during the Gitlitz years. And the association was made up of industry verticals with sometimes opposing interests.
Gitlitz walked a fine line through all these issues, and was known for his aplomb and personal warmth.
Gitlitz grew up in the Bronx. He worked in his parents’ delicatessen, Gitlitz's Deli -- prompting one friend to joke during a roast that “Jonah is still slinging the bologna." Later, Gitlitz served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War period, and was stationed in Osaka, Japan, and went on to work as a reporter and an editor, covering the TV industry.
Gitlitz was working in the DMA's Washington office when he was elevated to the top role. He also served as a board member and as president of Lillian Vernon, Inc., as well as serving on other boards.
The DMA was later absorbed into the ANA.