John P. Imlay Jr.
1936 - 2015
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IMLAY Jr., John P. John P. Imlay Jr. loved his family, welcomed a healthy dose of competition in business and in sport, and reveled in extending hospitality at his homes in Atlanta and in Scotland. He prized the philosophy extolled by Bobby Jones that "the two most important words in the English language are friend and friendship." The entrepreneur, technology pioneer, godfather of angel investing, author, and philanthropist, died suddenly on March 25 at the age of 78 at his home in Atlanta. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, to John Prescott Imlay Sr. and Cora Sterchi Imlay in 1936, John completed a degree in industrial management at Georgia Tech. He was a successful businessman, avid golfer, and minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons NFL franchise. He is credited with helping create two of Atlanta's biggest technology industries - software and Internet security. John built one of the nation's most successful software companies - Management Science America, Inc. (MSA) - which became an incubator for technology executives and startup companies in Atlanta. MSA is credited with training more than 300 CEOs and spawn nearly 100 companies. After purchasing the bankrupt company in 1971, John restructured it to create a software powerhouse. MSA went public in 1981 and in 1990 was sold to Dun & Bradstreet Corp. To help cultivate new talent, John used proceeds from the MSA sale to establish Imlay Investments, Inc., to help fund startup companies, primarily in Atlanta. Over the next two decades, he worked with more than 120 technology companies, including Tradex and Internet Security Systems, Inc. John was also an avid sports fan, and in 1991 he became a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons. An eternal optimist, he began each season declaring "this is it," always certain that the team would make it to the Super Bowl. John loved playing golf and was equally as passionate about preserving its history. He spearheaded the purchase of artifacts related to the legendary golfer, Bobby Jones, and chaired the Bobby Jones Executive Committee at the Atlanta History Center, helping develop the largest exhibition on Jones in the world. He was a founding member of the Robert T. Jones, Jr., Advisory Committee at Emory University and helped grow the Jones Scholar Program. He was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, North Berwick Golf Club, Royal Troon Golf Club, Muirfield-The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, East Lake Golf Club, the Atlanta Athletic Club, and Peachtree Golf Club, among others. John retired from angel investing in 2010, but remained an active philanthropist through the Imlay Foundation. He has been the recipient of many honors including induction into the Technology Hall of Fame for Georgia in 1994 and the Entrepreneur of the Year lifetime achievement award in 1997. Author of Jungle Rules: How to Be a Tiger in Business (1996), John was a sought-after public speaker around the globe who was well known for his wit and self-deprecating humor. He often said, "Businesses succeed through the blunt natural forces of honesty, persistence and creativity in people. . . .Everything else is just a vine to swing on." John's belief in the human spirit, his warmth, and his entrepreneurial drive shaped the business community in Atlanta and beyond. John's love of golf led him to Scotland, where he and his wife, Mary Ellen, lovingly restored Westerdunes, a historic home in North Berwick built between 1908-1910. They often opened the home to friends and family, and John's hospitality was legendary. John is survived by his loving wife Mary Ellen; brother Gerard and wife Paula; son, John P. Imlay III (Scott) and his wife, Cindy and children Caitlin, Courtney, and Lucy; stepson Alan Zubay and children Daisy and Ellen; stepdaughter Wimberly Dayton; husband John and children Jay, Charlotte, and Luke. A service celebrating John's life will be held on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, at 11:30 a.m. at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion (965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30313). Follow parking signs to Family Housing (ER66), North Deck/State St. (W23), or the Centergy lots (E82). Visit for more information. The service will be followed by a reception at East Lake Golf Club (2575 Alston Drive, SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30317). In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Atlanta History Center for the "John P. Imlay Jr. Gallery - Down the Fairway with Bobby Jones" at 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30305.

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Published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Mar. 29 to Mar. 31, 2015.
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32 entries
October 24, 2017
I learned about Mr. Imlay's death rather late but still wanted to respond. I was in the computer business back in the same time of MSA. We provided minicomputer based systems based upon Data General, DEC and other systems according to customer needs. I met Mr Imlay at a show and he recalled getting one of our direct mail pieces we used to send out by the thousands. I was amazed that he remembered it and he gave us some great ideas on how to make it better. I can still remember to this day the full page MSA software ads that were all over the trade journals.

That industry sure did change once the IBM PC came out and at that time I made a career change.

Now that I am back in Atlanta again I remember MSA and that 20 minute conversation I had with John Imlay. I regret that I never saw him again. Certainly an icon in the computer business. My best to his family as he will be missed by all in Atlanta and far beyond.
Greg Roebuck
July 11, 2016
People are the key was the MSA company philosophy. I spent the best years of my 43 plus years in IT at MSA as a mainframe programmer. John Imlay told me on my one year anniversary that I was a cornerstone of development. He was a great man and leader who I always admired. I will add him to my nightly prayer.
Robert Pasterniak
April 9, 2015
Condolences to Mary Ellen and the rest of John's family. I was very saddened to hear of his passing. My Mother (Rita) worked for him at his home in Westerdunes, Scotland. John invited us to Atlanta and showed us the most amazing hospitality. In everything he did, his quote was "people are the key". He was a wonderful man. May he rest in peace
Angela Jarvis
April 8, 2015
Ms. Imlay, I am so sorry to learn of Mr. Imlay's passing. Working security for the Falcons, I often got to interact and talk with Mr. Imlay - he often took the elevator up with me at the Dome. He was such a kind and caring man. He will be missed by many. I just wanted to take a moment and let you know what an honor it was to know and spend just a little amount of time with him... Many people will never know his impact on this city. I know how kind he was to me. I will miss him on game days...
Jay Taylor
April 6, 2015
I worked at MSA for 14 years and loved it. The wonderful memories will always be with me. I adored John as the generous charismatic man that he was. He was a true showman who held our attention with every employee meeting and every fabulous Kick Off Party. Rest in Peace to the one and only Tiger.
Frankie Merritt
April 6, 2015
Condolences to Mary Ellen, the Imlay family and all who grieve as we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of this great man. He positively influenced the direction of many and personally changed my life through his leadership at MSA and his continued generosity. Thank you. I love you John and Mary Ellen Imlay. My thoughts and prayers remain with you.
Madge Pentecost Williams
April 2, 2015
I was fortunate to have worked at MSA for 10 years. They were the best 10 years of my career and my life as well. Those years laid the groundwork for the rest of my career and the company I founded. John Imlay was MSA. He was a giant and someone to whom I express profound gratitude and will carry a fond memory of forever.
Gary Knopp
April 2, 2015
I worked for John and Mary Ellen at Westerdunes in Scotland. John was always a kind friendly man who never treated you like a worker more like a friend. His memory and love of Scotland is here for everyone to see
My deepest condolenses to Mary Ellen and her Family and everyone who was touched by Johns friendship and kindness
Colin Stewart
April 2, 2015
I met Mr Imlay a few times when he spent time at his house in North Berwick Scotland, he was one of the kindest and nicest people I have ever known He loved Scotland and Scotland, in particular East Lothian loved him Thank you Mr Imlay for your generosity and your name will live for evermore throughout Scotland especially in North Berwick and every time I cross the bridges you funded on the West Links I will remember you fondly " a wonderful man "
April 1, 2015
I was sad to hear this news. John was an inspiration to me, and I know to many others like me who started their careers under his leadership at MSA. It feels like a piece of my heart has been snatched away. May he rest in peace and may you be comforted in knowing what a positive impact he had on so many lives.
Claudia Pillich
April 1, 2015
I was a childhood friend of John's in Savannah and used to go to his home on east 48th street to play. I followed his career but was unable to make contact with him after adulthood. I remember him in detail.
Stanley Harris, Jr.
April 1, 2015
People were always the key to this great leader and wonderful person. the best of the best. RIP
April 1, 2015
Deepest sympathy thoughts and prayers are with you and your family from Diana and Angela (Pam's) sisters
March 31, 2015
Deepest Sympathy to the Imaly Family, May God bless you all at this time of loss. Mr. Imaly will truly be missed.
Sammy Perkins
Peachtree Golf Club
March 31, 2015
My sincere condolences to Mary Ellen and the entire Imlay family. John was an inspiration to all of us who had the pleasure of working under his guidance at MSA. He left an amazing legacy and was taken way too soon. There will never be another quite like John.
Marti Jeffes
March 31, 2015
Mary Ellen,
My condolences to you and your family. I'm thinking of you during this difficult time and hoping your many happy memories will help you.
Carol Ann (Neal) Culpepper
March 31, 2015
John was an old friend from Savannah High and GA Tech. No finer man have I known. May God comfort his family in this difficult time.

Chappell, (Chappy) Summers
March 31, 2015
God bless you, RIP.
March 30, 2015
May the memories of a life well-lived help comfort you during this difficult time. And may the strength that God provides, sustain you in the days ahead. (Psalm 46:1)
C Richardson
March 30, 2015
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Rev 21:3&4 G. Johnson
March 30, 2015
John Imlay was a truly inspiring leader and one of those rare CEO's who made it a point to know employees from all levels of his organization. It was a privilege to work for MSA and have memories of those famous company meetings. His influence lives on in each of us.
Beth Price
March 30, 2015
We offer our deepest condolences to Mary Ellen and the rest of John's family over the sudden loss of such a gracious, engaging and generous man. Although we had only met John a few months before his passing, his boundless energy, intellectual curiosity and kind spirit made it easy to become fast friends. John and Mary Ellen made a generous commitment of time and money to Volunteers in Medicine of Hilton Head which is deeply appreciated. Please know that, as John's family, you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Sincere Sympathies, Ray and Marilyn Cox
Ray&Marilyn Cox
March 30, 2015
John was a gentleman and true to his personal values!
What a legend he has become and will remain.
May his family be comforted by the grace of God.
Polly Harper
March 30, 2015
Sincere condolences to the Imlay family. May
God provide an abundance of peace and
comfort during these difficult days. May the
love and support of family and friends be a
source of encouragement and strength for you and your family.
March 29, 2015
My husband and I met John through our son Bryan Mundy. When Bryan and his partner were just starting their company, EZGov, John was very generous with helping them. There was over 30 years difference between our son and John but Bryan really enjoyed his friendship and spending time with him. That's the kind of person John was. He was kind and friendly to people of all ages. Bryan passed away in 2001 and I know he will be waiting for John with open arms. Our sincere sympathy to Mary Ellen and his entire family.

Paul and Mary Ellen Mundy and family
Mary Ellen and Paul Mundy
March 29, 2015
My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Imlay family during this most difficult time and the days that lie ahead. I was a client of John's when he headed up CT South and MSA and from that we became a friends. He was a pleasure to be around, always positive and upbeat. We had numerous spirited and competitive golf games at both at East Lake and Atlanta AC which were always enjoyable regardless of how we played or who won. John was a Gentleman in the truest since of the word and truly one of a kind! May he Rest In Peace. E. B. Leatherman, III Humble, TX
E. B. Leatherman, III
March 29, 2015
Offering my sincere sympathy at this difficult time. May the God of tender mercies comfort you.
March 28, 2015
My sincere sympathy; may The God of all comfort who comforts us in all our trials give you peace at this time of sorrow.
Cathy T
March 28, 2015
Our condolences to the Imlay family. I think I can speak on behalf of many MSA'ers that John was an inspiration and positive impact that lasted our entire careers and lives. Though I left MSA decades ago, I was delighted to have a personal letter exchange with John a couple years ago that spoke to the man's ability to connect with people. We lost a true Tiger.
Robert Dvorak
March 27, 2015
Abbreviated version of one of Mr. Imlay's old stand by's from the MSA days:

Ring, ring "Motor Pool"
John Imlay- "I need a car, what do you have"
Motor Pool- "we have a couple of Hondas, a Buick, and even a Mercedes for "fatty" our chairman".
Motor Pool- "No"
John- "it's John Imlay, your chairman"
Motor Pool- "um, you know who THIS is?"
John- "No"
Motor Pool- "so long fatty" click.

So long indeed John...the honor was all ours.
March 27, 2015
Offering my deepest condolences to all, may God grant you strength and courage as you face the coming days.
March 27, 2015
I first met John in 1962. He was with Univac and I was with NCR. We were the same age, 25, and vying for the computer business with the South Carolina Tax Commission.
NCR won out but John and I became fast friends and would chat from time to time over the years since. I vividly remember him one time calling me from his castle in Scotland. He was one of the most wonderful guys I have ever met and I cherished our friendship. RIP, John; see you again soon.
Bob Morris
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