The passing of Bill Pesce is a solemn moment for all of us at Austin Williams, the firm that he created more than a quarter century ago.
We remember Bill as a friend and mentor. He was the consummate ad guy from the “Mad Men” era, at a time when New York City was the epicenter of an industry on fire, defined by slick campaigns and catchy taglines. But Bill wanted advertising and marketing to have more human feedback. He was one of the originators of what we know today as direct marketing, a mainstay of our modern business, transforming from mailbox flyers to digital campaigns.
In search of a shorter commute to the office and a better quality of life, Bill relocated his office from New York City to Long Island. Although it took a few iterations, he eventually became the “Williams” in Austin Williams, and our agency was born.
A gentle giant with a soft voice and endearing personality, Bill was nurturing and warm. He was a creative at heart – a true artist, whether drawing or sculpting – and his creations were captivating and inspiring.
He encouraged us to grow with the agency as it evolved, and when the time was right, he gave us the opportunity to take it over completely and give it new life for a new era.
Bill and his wife, Joann, retired to their summer home in Windsor, NY, but that didn’t stop him from representing the agency on new business opportunities in the Binghamton area.
When we rebranded the agency in 2017, we gave careful consideration to whether we should change the name Bill had established all those years before. But we rejected the concept, believing “Austin Williams” had amassed too much credibility and too much name recognition to simply throw away. The strength of our brand identity is a testament to Bill and what he started so many years ago.
Now with a staff of nearly 50 professionals, our success is his legacy. Bill has made a lasting impact on each of us – even those who didn’t know him – and we are forever in his debt. We will miss him immensely.