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Ad industry pioneer, co-founder of Lockhart & Pettus agency, passes at the age of 81

(February 18, 2015) Keith Lockhart, who co-founded the pioneering New York-based advertising agency, Lockhart & Pettus, died on February 6 at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine following a lengthy battle against cancer. He was 81 years old.

Keith had a long and successful career in advertising. His first industry assignment was as a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, at the time world's largest agency. He then joined E.T. Howard as its first black creative director and subsequently went on to work at the Foote, Cone and Belding ad agency.

In 1977, with partner Ted Pettus, Keith co-founded the Lockhart & Pettus advertising agency, one of the nation's few African-American-owned agencies. L&P quickly earned a reputation for its outstanding work and built a roster that included clients such as Chrysler, Pepsi, Clairol, Carson Products, KFC, Glory Foods, Panasonic, Magic Shave Cream, Centers for Disease Control, Con Edison and the US Army. The agency also handled general market ad campaigns for a number of major clients including the restaurant chain Wendy's and spirits distiller Hiram Walker

Keith Lockhart and Ted Pettus at photo shoot in 1985. By Tony Barboza

Ted Pettus said that the comments from people remembering his partner spoke to the impact Keith had on others. "The thing that strikes me most about what we were able to accomplish is that he and I understood the importance of what [Lockhart & Pettus] was doing for the people that worked for us."

Keith, he said remained a teacher and mentor to those whom he provided opportunity. "A lot of the people that we hired were skilled but they hadn't had the opportunity to use those skills. We gave people the opportunity to take care of their families. Perhaps if they had tried to do this in the general market, they might not have gotten that opportunity. "

Born in New York City on April 18, 1933 to Leslie and Juanita Lockhart, Keith grew up in Harlem along with his sisters Jacqueline Lockhart Banks and Joan Lockhart Rolle. Following six years in the Air Force, where he quickly rose to the rank of navigator, Keith graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson University with a degree in English and went on to the Yale School of Drama, where he studied playwrighting.

An accomplished trumpet player and knowledgeable fan of both jazz and classical music, Keith was also a voracious reader and an avid tennis player, enjoying the game with friends in the Chip & Racquet club and with his family. He loved the theater and continued to write plays throughout his life.
A proud and loving father, he is survived by his wife of 34 years, Ellen Jorgensen, and his five children: Theodore with spouse Emi Lockhart (Brooklyn, NY), Julian with spouse Jenifer Schembri (Myakka City, FL), Eric (New Haven, CT), Annalise (Brooklyn, NY) and Sonja (Palo Alto, CA). Among his many nieces and nephews, Keith had a special and close relationship with his niece Juanita Troy Harris.
Among his activities in the community, Keith served on the boards of the Black Tennis and Sports Foundation, The Drawing Center, and the Glaucoma Foundation.
In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of the important role of tennis throughout Keith's life, and the value he placed on education, the family asked that contributions in his memory be made to the Harlem Junior Tennis Education Program, c/o Harlem Armory Center, 40 West 143rd Street, New York, NY 10037 or on their website at

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