Jay Rockey, who was born and raised in Olympia and later led a successful career in public relations, including as the director of public relations for the 1962 World’s Fair, died on Feb. 24. He was 90.
Rockey passed away peacefully in his sleep, according to an obituary in The Seattle Times.
Born in 1928, Rockey later attended Olympia High School, while his father, best known as Chick Rockey, coached and taught at the school. After he graduated, Rockey served in the Navy and later attended what was then Washington State College, where he studied several subjects, including journalism.
Bill Jacobs, who also attended Olympia High School with Jay and later served on the Olympia City Commission, remembered him Monday as a thoughtful, decent and caring person. “He exhibited magnificent leadership in high school,” Jacbos said, adding that he did so without being pushy or arrogant.
Jay didn’t play sports at Washington State College, but he did in high school, including baseball and track and field, Jacobs said. One day the track and field team called him over from baseball practice to fill a spot and run the hurdles. Still wearing his jersey he beat them all, he said.
“He did a lot of things in high school and underneath it all he was a good student and friend to a lot of people,” Jacobs said. “He was true a ‘golden boy.’ They don’t come along very often.”
After college, he worked for United Press International and the PR department at Alcoa, and as the director of public relations for the Seattle World’s Fair. During his time promoting the fair, he and his staff secured 50,000 newspaper stories and 1,000 magazine stories, including a Life magazine cover, according to the Times’ obituary.
“He was the proverbial ‘home town boy made good,’ ” said former Secretary of State Sam Reed in an email to The Olympian.
After the World’s Fair, he formed Jay Rockey Public Relations, which was later renamed The Rockey Company and sold to New York-based PR firm Hill and Knowlton in 2000.
His wife, Retha, died in 2009 after 55 years of marriage.
A celebration of life is planned for the weekend of April 21. Details can be found at www.jayrockey.net.