By Rebecca Hoey ~ Nikolai “Nic” Blades Pronovich, an accomplished advertising writer, coffee entrepreneur, and direct descendant of the Mayflower, died on April 19, 2020, at Weill Cornell Medical Center, after a brief battle with COVID.
Born on May 10, 1940, and raised in Bellmore, Pronovich attended MIT and Hofstra University before heading to Manhattan to pursue his advertising career, which eventually landed him at Young & Rubicam. Here, he was Tricia Bradley’s boss during the 1970s and ’80s. “Nic was an incredible, incredible, incredible human. He was somebody who challenged you to be better. He made you work for it,” she continued. “If he loved you, you were lucky. I was one of the lucky ones.” Tricia’s husband, Kenny Yagoda, also worked with Nick. “He saw the world on the bright-side, had a heart of gold, and was hilarious,” he said. The trio remained devoted friends.
Oldest and dearest friend, Loren Von Falkenbach, reminisced that he met Pronovich in the late 1950s, clearly expressing that their friendship remained steadfast throughout Pronovich’s life. It was Falkenbach who introduced Nick to Fire Island around 1959. Yet this visit remained the only time the duo was on the island together.
Longtime friend Marshall Karp recalled, “I met Nick in 1963. We were both direct mail copywriters at Prentice Hall in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. We became fast friends and in early 1965 … we pooled our limited resources and rented a two-bedroom apartment on East 34th Street. I’m straight, Nick was gay, and it totally worked. If it sounds like a sitcom premise I guess maybe it was. I know we had a lot of laughs.” Karp remembered heading to Fire Island with Pronovich a handful of times, but it was the venture-filled Fire Island stories that Pronovich shared that truly entertained his friends.
Hanging out in Cherry Grove, then primarily The Pines during the 70s and 80s, Pronovich would return to work on Mondays in NYC carrying with him stories of his humor-filled adventures. “One weekend after buying all the nail-polish-remover on the island, he proceeded to paint the nails of a sleeping roommate, a horrible color. He laughed so hard while he was telling us the story,” Bradley shared.
Pronovich created and oversaw many successful campaigns, including well-known ones such as Brush Your Breath with Dentyne. During his attempt at retirement, Pronovich switched from advertising to marketing, most notably, the Dancing Moon Coffee Company.
Bradley shared that the passing of Pronovich was a shock to his friends, as he became a “fitness fanatic and germophobe” after losing many friends to AIDS.
Karp shared how he learned of Nick’s death: “Life evolved, but we remained friends till he passed. In fact, I sent him an email a few weeks before I heard the sad news, and wondered why he hadn’t responded.” Von Falkenbach reached out to Karp to give him the sad news. Yet Von Falkenbach heard Nick’s final words to him via phone, a couple of nights before his passing, when he said, “I love you.”
Pronovich is survived by his sister, Diane Dempsey of Port Orange, Florida; his niece, Diana Farrell of Mastic; and his nephews, Ron Losee of Coram and Rich Losee of Bellevue, Nebraska. He will be missed by his family and his dear friends that loved him so.
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