Roper Center has lost a great friend. William “Jay” Wilson, Roper Center Board Member and leader in the field of market research, died on March 22, 2015.
Jay Wilson was born in Minnesota in 1936. He attended Yale University and then Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England, where he attained an M.A. degree-equivalent in Historical Studies. He also studied European economic and political institutions at the University of Vienna. His father, Elmo “Budd” Wilson, was a prominent market researcher and founder of International Research Associates (INRA), and after Jay’s return from his studies abroad, he joined his father’s firm. From there he undertook the leadership of ailing advertising firm Daniel Starch and Staff. With Jay at the reins, the company turned around and began a series of major acquisitions, starting with INRA in 1974, then the Roper Organization in the 1980s. Roper Starch Worldwide, as the firm came to be called, became the 15th largest research company in the world.
Jay showed his commitment to his field through extensive service. He served on boards related to higher education in market research at University of Texas at Arlington, University of Wisconsin, Baruch College and Colby-Sawyer College. He served as chair of CASRO and as co-chair of CMOR. And of course, he served on the Board of Directors for the Roper Center for over 20 years. His work as a Board Member was characterized by the creativity, innovative thinking, intelligence, and generosity he brought to all his endeavors.
Roper Center attorney Duane Berlin remembered his friend:
Jay was a man of passion and principal. He could be a source of infinite kindness and he could be tough as nails. Jay’s inclination was to trust and give the benefit of the doubt, but never he backed away from a fight. Jay was a stalwart friend and a formidable adversary. He was a class act and a regular guy.
We extend our sympathies to his wife, Gabi, children Amanda and Barb Wilson, Heather and Ned Saunders, Adam Coatsworth, Helenka Coatsworth, Fred Wright and Bertie Wright, as well as his beloved grandchildren Natalie, Ellie, Madelyn, Max, Annabel and Charlotte.