McIlvaine, Wayne W.
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Wayne W. McIlvaine, many years of Southport, CT passed away peacefully in Naples, Florida (his home for the past 15 years) on January 3, 2013.
Wayne was an exuberant lover of life, an incredible friend, a captivating storyteller and a consummate optimist. He couldgenerally be found counseling people on life's issues, volunteering, and/or enjoying time with his family and friends. He was a farmer at heart and as his eldest daughter remembers, "he not only had a green thumb, but a magic one…He loved to horse around and throughout his whole life there was something of a kid on the farm that stayed inside of him..."
He is survived by his five children, Jane (of Epsom, NH), John (of Jacksonville, FL) , Jennifer (of La Jolla, CA), Kimball (of Naples, FL), and by Wayne Jr. (of Seattle, WA). Additionally, he is survived by his grandchildren: Kathryn Finney-Manchester, Jackson Landa, Chase Landa, Ryan Landa and his great-grandson, Jackson Finney-Manchester. His wife, Mary Ellen McHugh McIlvaine, predeceased him in 1979.
Wayne was born in Wooster, OH to Dean Alton McIlvaine and Olive Marie (Knepper) McIlvaine Sprague in a small home on Buckeye Street. He lived through the depression years on his Grandparents farm in Edina, OH and later moved to Columbus, OH where he attended and graduated from Upper Arlington High School. His friends from these years were very dear to him. He maintained contact with many of them until very recently.
When Wayne graduated high school in 1943, he went to Officer Candidate School and earned the rank of Captain. He became a Bombardier Navigator in the Army Air Corp (today the U.S. Air Force). He oversaw a specialized group during WWII and always had amazing stories to tell.
When the war was over, Wayne attended Ohio State University where he played football for a year and was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. It was here where Wayne met his wife, Jane Eleanor Price, the homecoming queen from Butler, PA. Jane and Wayne married and moved to New York City where Wayne became the Marketing Director for McCann Erickson. He was in charge of groundbreaking marketing programs for Coca-Cola, Westinghouse and many others.
In 1964, Wayne married the love of his life, Mary Ellen McHugh. They lived in Manhattan for many years before moving out to Westport, and ultimately Southport to raise their family. They loved working together and shared a passion for animals.
Marketing and entrepreneurship were in Wayne's blood and when his market research revealed a growing fashion trend towards women's wigs in the early 60's, he joined Reid-Meredith and eventually started Westport Wig Company where he enjoyed great success.
Wayne oversaw many other marketing ventures over the years including: Sunday Comics Couponing Corporation, World-Wide Marketing, and United Digital Broadcasting Corporation. He was on the cover of Success Magazine and touted in Who's Who in American Business.
Wayne loved to spend time on his "gentlemen's farm" in Southport, where he lived with Mary Ellen and their three children. He found great enjoyment in tending to his gardens, mowing the lawn and caring for his menagerie of chickens, ponies, goats, bunnies, dogs and cats. As one of his children remembers, "he always had a connection with animals… it was as if they knew what a warm, gentle soul he was and they responded in kind. He could train a dog or calm a spooked horse. It was very special to see."
He was a loving and thoughtful father and grandfather. After Mary Ellen died, Wayne raised their three small children on his own. He restructured his life so he could be closer to home and be a caring, attentive and significant role model to his children. His youngest daughter remembers how " he always taught us to go out of our way to do a kind deed for someone everyday."
Every person that was lucky enough to meet Wayne went away feeling better about themselves and the world around them. He had a way of looking on the bright side of things and focusing on the positive. He always found time to help those in need and could always help those around him to find the best in themselves and in others.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to The Naples Zoo, a place where Wayne volunteered much of his time and one of his favorite places. Please contact Pam Krol, Development Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-262-5409 ext. 147 to donate.
A celebration of Wayne's life will be held by his family at Trinity Episcopal Church in Southport, Connecticut on Saturday, June 15 at 11am. A reception immediately following the ceremony will be held at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport.
Published in StamfordAdvocate from Apr. 28 to May 1, 2013