Imagine a 24-year-old woman launching an advertising agency in downtown Terre Haute that quickly became a $1-million-a-year business.
Now, imagine that happening in 1949.
Myra Janco Daniels did that. And she did it while still studying at Indiana State Teachers College and working nights at Meis Department Store.
Those years marked the first steps in a career that saw Daniels become a national force in advertising; transform Naples, Fla., into a thriving and elite arts community; and raise significant funds for philanthropic projects. In 1967, she married an equally influential advertising executive — Draper Daniels.
He created the iconic Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant and All-State’s “You’re in Good Hands” ad campaigns and partially inspired the leading Don Draper character in the 1950s-based TV series “Mad Men,” which aired on AMC from 2007 to 2015.
Draper Daniels met Myra at Chicago in 1965, bought the ad agency for which she was serving as executive vice president, and asked her to stay on as its president, impressed by her style. Myra became the only woman to hold such a position with a major national ad agency, according to her personal website. Draper served as the agency’s creative director. Myra handled its marketing. Their company thrived, handling accounts for Colgate-Palmolive, Maytag and other popular brands.
Her accomplishments continued, though, well after his death from cancer in 1983 following their move to Florida.
“She was quite remarkable,” said Bernie Carney, a retired, 92-year-old businessman who was a student in college classes Daniels taught at Indiana State.
Other friends said the same about Daniels, who died June 22, just four days short of her 97th birthday.
“She was a very small, diminutive lady — under 5 foot — but her stature was so enormous,” longtime friend and businesswoman Ursula Pfahl said Tuesday by phone