Richmond advertising legend Jess Duboy died April 8 at age 79 after battling cancer since January 2015, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He was a man of more than 20,000 commercials — a national record — and is credited with creating the concept of the “Sell-A-Thon” sales strategy among many other accomplishments in entertainment and advertising.

“Jess Duboy had one of the most recognizable faces, and voices, in Richmond,” according to a tribute by WTVR. “Whether spinning records or selling sedans, Duboy was a master in the art of broadcasting.

“In a career that lasted for more than half a century, he worked tirelessly as a musician, a disc jockey, an author and an ad man.”

The Times-Dispatch story noted that in addition to a career in radio, he opened his own ad agency around 1967 and developed the Richmond Chrysler Plymouth Sell-A-Thon, the first time it ever had been done. He soon was doing Sell-A-Thons for car dealerships around the country. At one point, he was the most recognized man in Minneapolis, according to his business website.

“Toyota saw how good it was,” daughter Donna Spurrier, founder and CEO of Richmond-based Spurrier Group, told the Times-Dispatch. She said he was hired to create “Toyotathons” for the Japanese brand near its Southeast port of entry in Florida and the National Television Bureau of Advertising claimed in mid-1976 that his Toyotathons were the most successful auto dealership promotions ever created.

While he was well-known and respected for his advertising acumen, Duboy also had a short career as a rock singer and sang some of his commercials, the Times Dispatch reported. In fact, his reputation for singing led to his adult radio career. He was the lead singer in a group called Jess Duboy and The Hitchhikers, whose most-known song, “Beautiful Love” was released in 1957 and became a regional No. 1 hit.

In addition to his daughter and his wife, Betty, survivors include another daughter, Debra Bahen of Midlothian; a son, Douglas Duboy of Manakin; a brother, Raymond Dipboye of Florida; and nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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