William Tailford, founder of an advertising firm renowned for its design savvy who brought to Toledo national business that might otherwise have landed on Madison Avenue, died of cancer Monday in his Sylvania Township home. He was 77.
Mr. Tailford was a cancer survivor of more than a decade and bounced back from other health problems -- heart valve replacement; cardiac bypass surgery; an aortic aneurysm. As he recovered he continued to design packaging and products, and was executive producer for a film.
"My father was a glass half-full kind of guy," his son, Matt, said. "He was optimistic. Whatever had been thrown at him over the years, he found a way to turn it and make it good. It was that spirit that aided him in his health. His faith was a big part of that as well."
To mark a career of achievement, Mr. Tailford received the 2009 Silver Medal Award from the Advertising Club of Toledo.
He opened his firm in 1963 as Tailford Associates after about a decade at Libbey Glass, which hired him as an illustrator. His first client was Willis Machinery & Tool Co. Another early client, though, was Vroman Foods, a leading maker of frozen and ice cream novelties. Mr. Tailford's firm did work for hospitals and insurance companies, but frozen treats became almost a personal specialty. Another client was Eskimo Pie. In the 1970s, a New York manufacturer hired the firm to design half-gallon cartons for 20 flavors of Dolly Madison-brand ice cream -- which wasn't even sold in Toledo.
"There was no other advertising man in Toledo that saw so far beyond Toledo in terms of his vision of what was possible," said Jim Cooper, his son-in-law and chief executive of Cooper-Smith Advertising, the successor to Mr. Tailford's firm.
"He really saw the possibilities of New York and large-brand clients as being something totally within his reach and within the reach of all the people in Toledo who were extremely talented," Mr. Cooper said. "They didn't work on Madison Avenue, but were every bit as gifted."
Because ice cream and frozen treats often are impulse items, Mr. Tailford realized the importance of design that caught the eye.
"Packaging alone can make a product competitive or not," he told The Blade in 1977.
His son said: "He was a consummate craftsman and paid attention to detail."
Mr. Tailford worked long hours "and was a stickler for strict adherence to creative excellence," Mr. Cooper said. A project might seem ready for delivery, but those who worked for him knew he did not hesitate to require that a project be fixed -- or revamped -- if it did not meet his standards.
"If you can learn to take that kind of direction, over time your skills have been honed by fire and you really developed as a designer, and that was what he was great at," Mr. Cooper said. "He could identify good work from bad work so fast it would make your head spin.
"The part that has struck me is the opportunity he provided to others, the faith he put in so many other folks to be designers, and how he pushed them to be great designers."
He was particularly proud of his work designing the distinctive capsulelike container for Frusen Glädje, a competitor in the 1980s of Häagen-Dazs.
Mr. Tailford and his firm were recipients of many advertising awards, including a CLIO Award.
"For a little kid from the north end, he built one heck of a career," his son said.
He was born Jan. 8, 1935, to Ada and Bill Tailford and grew up in North Toledo. He was a 1953 graduate of Woodward High School and was inducted into its hall of fame in 2010. He attended the University of Toledo.
He was a member of Westgate Chapel and helped found the Toledo-area affiliate of Young Life, a Christian ministry.
Surviving are his wife, Jacquelynn Ann Tailford, whom he married Jan. 29, 1955; daughters, Kimberly Cooper and Tamara Luther; son, William Matthew Tailford; brothers, Thomas and Michael Tailford; sister, Donelda "Sis" Sampson, and eight grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from 3-9 p.m. today in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Westgate Chapel.
The family suggests tributes to Young Life Metro Toledo or Westgate Chapel.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.