Obituary: Leonid Pratt — former long-time resident, television production pioneer
Leonid “Lee” Pratt passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on May 13, 2017 at the age of 90. Lee was born on December 15, 1926 in Manhattan New York to Sophie Schmidt Pratt and Theodore Pratt. He attended Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School. Lee was a talented student and graduated at the top of his class. Following graduation, he served in the US Navy in active duty until 1946 and the reserves until 1950. While in the Navy, Lee was trained as an Aviation Electronics Technician and then went on to graduate with a B.A. from Union College in 1949.
Lee’s military training and formal education prepared him for a pioneering role in television beginning during college as a Television Technical Director with one of the earliest TV stations, WRGB in Schenectady, New York. Following graduation, he held several TV production posts with NBC until he went to work with J. Walter Thompson Company as production supervisor and then producer of Lux Video Theatre in the Hollywood office. It was there he met his wife of 57 years Mary Lawler Pratt, who was also a native New Yorker.
In 1958 Lee and Mary married after moving back to New York City. Lee held various posts in the broadcast department of JWT. He became Vice President and Senior Broadcast Supervisor in 1966, then Media Supervisor in 1972 where he was responsible for such accounts as Warner-Lambert, RCA, Congoleum, Irving Trust, Textron, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Good Year & The American Gas Association. He rose to Senior VP in 1978 of Brouillard Communications at JWT. Following JWT Lee joined RJR Nabisco and held the dual responsibility as the Executive VP of RJR Nabisco Broadcast and the Executive VP of the Ohlmeyer Advertising Division. Ohlmeyer Advertising broke away from RJR Nabisco in 1983 and Lee became the Chief Operating Officer. Lee spent his entire career in broadcasting both in production and advertising.
Lee’s career allowed him to travel with his beloved wife throughout the world to multiple Olympic games, large scale sporting & media events and an African safari. Mary & Lee enjoyed exploring the world, travelling European back roads and visiting new restaurants and B&B’s wherever they found themselves, relishing the experience of assimilating to the cultures and environments they travelled to. Long walks and bicycle rides were always on the agenda along with visiting the hole in the wall restaurants as well as the famous ones.
They raised their family and lived in Darien from 1960 until 2015. After retiring in 1988, Lee remained very active in civic duties serving on the boards of The Noroton Bay Community Association as well as being an elected delegate in the Darien Republican Town Committee. He was also a board member of his neighborhood association in Naples FL. The couple moved to Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers Florida in 2015. Lee moved to live with his daughter in Medford, NJ after the passing of his wife in June 2016.
Lee was an active member of his community and a natural leader and pragmatist in governance. He loved boating, sports, reading, politics and travel. He was a loving father and grandfather and is survived by his two children: David Pratt and his wife Lisa Nelson Pratt of Sebastopol, CA & Tina Pratt Shaffer and her husband John Shaffer of Medford, NJ; two grandsons Leo & Maize Pratt and 4 Nieces, Evalina Pratt and Katie, Melissa & Anna Shaffer. In addition to his family, Lee will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him throughout his life, including numerous friends along the east coast.
A memorial service will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the American Heart Association donatenow.heart.org or Paralyzed Veterans of America, 800-555-9140, 801 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 200006, pva.org.
— by the Family