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Former Supervisor and Ad Man Famous for Charmin Quote Dies

The wake for John Chervokas, advertising executive and public servant, is July 28.

Former Town of Ossining Supervisor John Chervokas, politican and ad man best known for the famous "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" commercials, has died.

He was 74.

The wake will be held at in Ossining on July 28 from 5-8 p.m. His funeral will be on July 29 at in Briarcliff Manor at 11 a.m.

John Chervokas began his public service career in the 70s as the president of the . He was the director of the Ossining Chamber of Commerce in the mid-90s. In 1998 Chervokas began his first term as the Town of Ossining's supervisor. He proudly served the people of the in that position until 2008.

Before his career in politics, John was a Madison Avenue advertising executive. He started as a copywriter and worked his way up to vice chairman and chief creative officer of Warwick Advertising.

As a copywriter John came up with the idea for the "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" ad campaign. He said the idea came from observing women who squeezed fruit in the supermarket, and the managers who had to stop them from doing so.

John Vincent Chervokas was born in Norwood, Massachusetts in 1936. He graduated from Fordham University in 1959. He wrote four books that focused on religious commentary and prayers.

John's son Jason had the following to say about the passing of his father: "My dad was well known in different spheres—in the advertising business he was known as a talented, inventive creative director who, as a junior copywriter invented the "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" campaign.

In politics he was known as a leader of gentle but firm conviction—serving not only for a decade as Ossining town supervisor, but also in the early 1970s as leader of the town's school board during a tumultuous redistricting that ended de facto segregation. He was the author of books, the editor of magazines, the composer of songs. But to his family he was known as a man of unfathomably deep stores of patience, almost supernatural kindness, and an inexhaustible capacity for groan-inducing puns. We'll miss him a lot.

The things I think people will remember about my dad—certainly the things we'll remember—are the power of creativity he possessed and believed in, and the compassion and kindness he brought to everything he did, even business and politics."

Catherine Borgia, the current Town of Ossining supervisor, is also reflecting on Chervokas' legacy. "The Town of Ossining is very saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague, former Town Supervisor John Chervokas. John's dedication to public service was an inspiration to us. His wit, wisdom, and unflagging good humor will be sorely missed by all who had the good fortune to know him. Our deepest condolences go to his family and many friends," said Borgia.

John Chervokas died Saturday at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan after a five-year battle with Parkinson's disease. He is survived by his wife Roseanna, his sons, daughter and three grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, you may send donations to the National Parkinson Foundation.

Ed note: In an earlier version, the story incorrectly stated Chervokas was elected in 1998. He was elected in 1997 and began serving in 1998. 

Meredith Lesly July 26, 2011 at 04:42 PM
I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Nonetheless, I have the deepest sympathy for his family for other reasons: my father slowly died from Parkinson's Disease 3+ years and so I know all too well what that battle must have been like for them all. We see too many obituaries about people dying after "battling Parkinson's." Perhaps Patch could write an article about what that battle is like, to give that phrase meaning to people, as well as covering the Parkinson's support groups in the area and any other services that might be helpful.
Louise Evans July 27, 2011 at 02:42 AM
Elected in Nov. 1997; took office Jan. 1998. Re-elected 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. Resigned six weeks into his new term in Feb. 2008 due to ill health.
Katie Ryan O'Connor July 27, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Thank you very much Louise. The story has been updated.
alan bernhard July 29, 2011 at 12:00 AM
John Chervokas was my boss at an advertising agency back jn the early 70's. He was already a legend in the business for his brilliant "please don't squeeze the Charmin" campaign. He was a pure wordsmith, and he taught me so much about creativity, style and humor.He was a great boss and a good friend. I'll never forget him.
Doug Cacciola July 31, 2011 at 04:42 PM
I had the honor of serving as an Assistant Fire Chief of the Briarcliff Manor FD during John's term as Town Supervisor. I considered him a personal friend of mine and he was certainly a friend to the BMFD. I am saddened by the loss of our dear friend and extend my sincere condolences to his family on behalf of the entire Briarcliff Manor Fire Department. His thoughtful guidance and distinguished leader will be missed. Sincerely, Doug Cacciola, Deputy Chief Briarcliff Manor Fire Department

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