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November 3, 2017

Tracy O'Day remembered as ‘high priestess of PR'

  • A celebration of her life will take place March 17, 2018, on her favorite holiday, St. Patrick's Day.
  • O'Day

    Public relations veteran Tracy O'Day died suddenly on Oct. 25 at her home in Seattle. She was 69.

    O'Day has been called “the high priestess of real estate and construction PR,” and operated her firm, Tracy O'Day Marketing, for much of the last 34 years.

    “She had a rich personal life, mentored numerous people who became lifelong friends, and had a talent for connecting people that enriched many lives,” said her daughter, Laura Johnson, in a death notice.

    O'Day was born in 1947 and grew up on a ranch in Great Falls, Montana. She earned a degree in psychology and social work from Eastern Washington University, and arrived in Seattle in 1972.

    Her peripatetic early career included an eight-year stint as a co-owner of Wee Bit O'Ireland, a retail import store in Pioneer Square, which she helped operate until 1980. She also served as a media relations and marketing director for several businesses, including the Benaroya Co. and Jack McGovern's Music Hall.

    O'Day founded her marketing firm in 1984, and specialized in commercial real estate and construction clients.

    She told the DJC in 2000 that she found her way into the real estate industry while working for developer Jack Benaroya.

    “Jack is a legend, so when I struck out on my own, all of the development community wanted to talk to me,” she recalled. “Not that they wanted to hire me. They just wanted to know about Jack.”

    O'Day dropped her solo act in 2000 when she merged with the PR and marketing firm Firmani & Associates. Her client list at the time included CBRE, Bentall US LLC, Harbor Properties, Kauri Investments, Commercial Real Estate Women Northwest, Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington, Construction Associates Inc., and Donald B. Murphy Contractors.

    She told the DJC she looked forward to spending more time on “client service, which is my love,” and less on administrative duties.

    In 2004, O'Day announced her retirement with the proviso that she might come back to work one day.

    The retirement didn't take.

    “She just kept trying to retire or at least slow down, but people kept calling her,” said Kathleen Garrity, a friend and former president of ABC of Western Washington. “She loved her clients and her work.”

    O'Day is survived by her daughter Laura Johnson, grandchildren Jake and Cejay, sister Kelly O'Day Parsons, brother-in-law Jerry, and nephews Jeremy and Josh (Molly), as well as many cousins and adopted loved ones.

    A celebration of O'Day's life will take place March 17, 2018, on her favorite holiday, St. Patrick's Day, at a time and place to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Humane Society, Pasado's Safe Haven or to a favorite charity.

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