Theodore J. Grunewald, who had a dual career in advertising in New York City and in local real estate, died peacefully and surrounded by his family on Friday, April 6, 2012. He was 87 and was a resident of Stamford for 54 years.
Mr. Grunewald was an advertising executive in the early days of television and was influential in shaping the television shows of that time. In the second half of his career he was well known as a builder of fine homes and as a broker of estates in Stamford and Greenwich.
During the early years of television, advertising executives did more than write ad copy; they discovered and developed talent and assumed key roles in shaping the content and style of television shows. During his advertising career, Mr. Grunewald was a producer of some of the first nationally syndicated television shows including the Jerry Lester Show, and Super Circus with Claude Kirschner and Mary Hartline. He was also a producer of the first network evening news program; the Camel News Caravan with anchor John Cameron Swayze.
In later life, he undertook a career in real estate. His most recent association was with Raveis Realty in Greenwich where he was vice president for exceptional properties until his retirement in 2008.
Born on Oct. 31, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, to Theodore J. Grunewald and Ellen Jackman, Mr. Grunewald was the eldest of four boys. His father was comptroller for Colgate Palmolive for decades until his retirement. He was a graduate, in 1942, of Brooklyn’s St. Augustine High School.
Mr. Grunewald served as corporal in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943 through 1946. As a meteorologist, his readings and predictions were critical for military planning during the Allied campaigns in North Africa and Italy.
In 1948, Mr. Grunewald graduated cum laude from New York University with a B.S. degree in Marketing.
He was introduced to Dorothy M. Nedwick by her cousin, a fraternity brother, during Mr. Grunewald’s last year of college. They were married on Oct. 9, 1949 in New York City.
After graduation, Mr. Grunewald entered the storied and glamorous world of early TV and advertising – the world on which the contemporary TV series “Mad Men” is based. From 1949-51, he was a TV producer for the William Esty Co. and became the lead business manager for Esty’s TV Commercial Department in 1951. From 1952-53 he joined Doyle Dane Bernbach as their director of TV and radio.
From 1953-1955 he was Director of TV and radio for Hicks and Greist, Inc., advertising agency, 555 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, and served successively as vice president, 1953-57; member of the board of directors from 1957 on; principal, 1958-59; and as Hicks and Geist’s senior vice-president from 1959 to 1965.
In 1965, Mr. Grunewald and a partner, Ben Bliss, formed their own advertising agency, Bliss/Grunewald, Inc., in Manhattan; Mr. Grunewald served as president. The firm had dozens of major clients including Scripto, Inc., Breakstone, Schenley Industries, Inc., Alcan Aluminum Corp., and Cunard Lines, Ltd.
After closing the agency in 1972, Mr. Grunewald went into building and real estate the following year. He built several high-end homes in Stamford, and also became a realtor specializing in high-end residential and commercial properties. He was a member of the National, Connecticut, Stamford, and Greenwich Association of Realtors, the Home Builders Association of Fairfield County, and sold hundreds of properties during his 35-year career in real estate. He was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion where he was active in trying to better the lives of veterans and their families.
The end of World War II found him at the Eremo Hotel on the slope of Mount Vesuvius outside Naples. The Army ordered him to take over the hotel and make it into a way-station for US troops waiting to be sent home. Ted transformed it into a social hot spot where troops could get a great meal, drink, and play cards. He threw regular parties where lonely soldiers could meet local women and dance the night away.
In one of the more striking coincidences of his life, he visited the Hotel Eremo again in 1996 during a family trip to Italy that was a 70th birthday gift to his wife from their daughter. The day Ted and his family happened to visit was the very last day that the hotel was open before closing forever.
Mr. Grunewald was a member, and past vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity and a member of Alpha Delta Sigma.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dorothy M. Grunewald of Stamford; his son, Theodore J. Grunewald, Jr. of New York City; by his daughter, Carol L. Grunewald, and son-in-law Jeremy R. Rifkin, both of Washington, DC. His son, Steven P. Grunewald, predeceased him in 1992.
The family will receive friends at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, CT on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held in the Chapel at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 4 Riverside Avenue in Greenwich on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM. Interment will be private. www.lawrencefuneralhome.com