Tuesday, May 5, 2009


George A. Brakeley Jr., died on May 1st in Naples, FL, at the age of 93.

It's good that none of you checked out that day. George would not have countenanced the competition; he was a tad challenged limelight-wise.

George Brakeley was an innovator in philanthropy and fund raising, a leading spokesman for the consulting profession, and a founder of the the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel (now the Giving Institute Etc.). His career began with John Price Jones, Inc., of New York City, which was known at his retirement in 1983 as Brakeley, John Price Jones (today Brakeley Briscoe, Inc.). He also founded firms bearing his name in Canada and on the West Coast.

Those, friends, are the facts. George is on my very short list of true greats in this business.In his prime he sucked the air out of a room. He was patrician, snobbish, elegant, commanding and brilliant. He was a consummate name-dropper, a curmudgeon at the best of times and he could be a nasty SOB at times. My kind of guy. I'm sorry to say he mellowed in his later years and the last time I saw him seven or eight years ago was at an all day retreat in Stamford, under the aegis of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) chapter there - which he had helped find its sea legs after a less than great start.

What makes George one of the greats - along with guys like Maury Gurin and Harold Oram was his take on the business. He was tough, intuitive and a great teacher not by patience or example but just because he knew. You either got it (and him) or you didn't.

He was mannered but never dainty. He didn't just eat half a grapefruit. He picked it up and squeezed all the juice out and he did it gracefully. That was George. Grace and purpose.

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