Advertising is very much a “what have you done for me lately” industry. Practically every day, there’s a new medium to learn about, a new strategy to examine and, thankfully, a new ad to write. This is part of the excitement of the industry, but it’s also to our detriment. There are often important people in our industry younger professionals never have the opportunity to meet.
The recent passing of Julia Loomis (Julie) McDowell is a sad reminder of this. Julie battled several illnesses over the past few years and really hasn’t been active in the advertising community for a couple of decades. Many talented and experienced advertising professionals working in our region never met her. But, I remember her as a wonderful designer who I had the privilege of working with early in my career. I’ll always remember her genuine, caring, warm laugh and big glasses. She started in the industry with Snead Advertising about the time I was born, worked briefly for a local television station where she met her husband Charlie, an accomplished creative director in his own right, married and was promptly fired because the station had a policy that did not allow spouses to work together. She ended up working with John Will Creasy and Fred Corstaphney with Associated Advertising, a venerable Roanoke agency that had a run of nearly thirty years.
After I was laid off at Associated due to the loss of a major account that would eventually scuttle the agency, Julie told me I needed to meet a young art director from VCU, her alma mater. His name was Tony Pearman and I have to admit it’s worked out remarkably well for me.
Julie won scores of local and regional awards for clients such as the Richmond Diocese, FNEB/Dominion and Alamo Savings Bank. She was one of the first area professionals to earn a national Addy. She was the second woman honored in the Roanoke Valley with a Silver Medal for lifetime achievement in advertising. Later in life she became an accomplished stained glass artist.
Julie has passed on, but her work will be a part of our region for decades to come. She designed the logos for the National
D-Day Memorial, Our Lady of Nazareth, Showtimers, Juvenile Diabetes, Virginia Easter Seals, Opera Roanoke, Daughters of the American Revolution, Calvary Baptist Church, Virginia Western Community College, and many others.
Yes, our work in the advertising industry is ephemeral. But the lesson Julie McDowell teaches us is that if we do it well, it can last for a very long time.