Jack Carmichael, ad man, author and board game inventor, was a renowned thinker whose mind was always racing.
The namesake for one of Minneapolis’ leading advertising agencies, Carmichael Lynch, Carmichael was a dynamic and creative individual whose body of advertising work includes the timeless line, “You’ll find your home at Gabberts.”
Carmichael passed away last month at the age of 81 following open heart surgery. He died in Las Vegas, his home of the last several decades.
Born in St. Louis and raised in Chicago, Carmichael served four years in the U.S. Air Force and two years in the Naval Reserve. He eventually made his way to Minneapolis, where he met up with Lee Lynch when both were working at what is now the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Lynch was a copy boy; Carmichael was advertising manager for the Tribune’s Sunday magazine.
In 1962, Carmichael opened Jack Carmichael Advertising and quickly joined forces with Lynch to create Carmichael Lynch Advertising.
“Our first three clients went bankrupt. That’s one of our claims to fame,” said Lynch, now retired from the agency. “But we got PemTom and Gabberts as clients, and Arctic Cat snowmobiles in its early years.”
Carmichael was the agency’s art director.
“Jack was a real idea generator and had a good sense of design,” Lynch said. “Jack had a restless, creative mind.”
Another passion wins out
Carmichael left the agency in 1969 to pursue his other passion — board games. He invented more than 100 games, including a well-regarded one that he sold to 3M called Mr. President. The website BoardGameGeek called Mr. President “a highly realistic re-enactment of the campaign events which lead to the election of the president of the United States.”
“He was working on board games until the day he died,” son Jon said. “He was always doing something. He was a creative genius.”
Carmichael was also a voracious reader. “He would go to the library and have a hard time finding books he hadn’t read,” son Steve said.
Carmichael moved to Las Vegas in 1986 to get back into agency work as a creative director for a Las Vegas shop.
A memorial service will be held in Las Vegas this weekend for Carmichael. Fitting his passion, the memorial reception will feature a display of Carmichael’s games so guests can play them while celebrating his life. He had 11 of his games published commercially.
Carmichael also was the author of six novels and a collection of spiritual poems called “Grandpa Jack’s Purpose Driven Poems.”
Carmichael and his family also got involved in a teen safe-driving program based in Las Vegas called Driver’s Edge after Carmichael witnessed a fatal accident involving teens, Lynch said.
“Dad would help anyone he could,” Jon Carmichael said. “He was a great guy who was always very loving and kind to everyone.”
Carmichael is survived by his wife, JaeJae, six children, Carey Wennerlyn, Lori Rick, Linda Neiffer, Steve Carmichael, Tracy Noble and Jon Carmichael; a brother, Mike Carmichael, a sister, Jane Houlton; 13 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
A Minneapolis memorial will be held later. Carmichael will be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.