U loses former Daily reporter, ad exec, activist

by Robin Huiras

Ray Mithun, a University alumnus, community activist and entrepreneur died Tuesday, at the age of 89, in a Phoenix hospital.
Described by his peers as an overachiever, Mithun graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism after working at the Daily as a reporter and the editor in chief. Mithun also lettered in football, track and basketball, and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity.
“There was a warm part of him that went above and beyond the call of duty,” said Steve Griak, a lifelong friend of Mithun, and partner in the local film production company Wilson-Griak.
After Mithun graduated, the Warren, Minn., native became city editor at the Mankato Free Press, and later copywriter at BBDO advertising in Minneapolis.
In 1933, at the age of 23, Mithun co-founded what was Campbell-Mithun Advertising, and is now Campbell Mithun Esty. Ten years later he was named president of what is today the largest ad agency west of the Mississippi River.
Griak said Mithun was a high-energy person.
“He was really involved with the agency and making it grow,” Griak said. “He had a vision, and trained local people to realize it.”
In 1983, he retired from the ad agency to commit his energies to a lucrative banking business.
Although committed to his business, Mithun actively participated in the Twin Cities community.
Among other things, Mithun served on the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, Minneapolis Downtown Council, Minnesota Orchestra Association, The Symphony Board, Minneapolis School of Art, and was president of St. Barnabus Hospital in Minneapolis.
In 1989, the American Advertising Federation inducted Mithun into its hall of fame, one of the advertising industry’s most prestigious honors.
Mithun was also known to be a strong supporter of the University, and in 1974 created a scholarship for Chicano, African-American and American Indian students. He also sponsored a $500,000 chair position in advertising for the School of Journalism.
A long-time resident of Wayzata, Minn., Mithun also lived in Indian Wells, Calif.
He is survived by his wife Doris and sons Raymond Jr., Lewis and Jack. Funeral services will be held Tuesday at the Wayzata Community Church.