By Mary Thurwachter
BOCA RATON — Jay H. Van Vechten II, a Boca Raton public relations pro who honed his skills in New York City and later used that experience to found the Boating and Beach Bash for People with Disabilities, died on July 11 at Hospice By the Sea. He was 75.
The annual Boating and Beach Bash, launched in Boca Raton in 2009, became the largest free outdoor event in Palm Beach County for people with disabilities. Mr. Van Vechten himself was disabled since a fall in 2001.
“Jay was such a genuine friend and a real ambassador for people with special needs,” said his close friend Mark Hansen. “That was his life, always on a mission to help others, always wanting to add a voice where others couldn’t. He had a personal touch in all his ways that left lasting positive impressions to all whom he came in touch with.”
Mr. Van Vechten was born Sept. 17, 1944, in New York City. He studied graphic design at Carnegie Mellon University and later founded his own company, Van Vechten & Co. in Manhattan, where he represented medical, pharmaceutical and health care clients. He was fond of travel and enjoyed organizing trips with groups of friends from around the world.
“As a devoted husband, father and friend, Jay’s capacity for love — the genuine, true, unconditional love — was large,” his wife, Lowell, wrote. “He loved people, and everyone who knew him understood that in him they had a friend for life. In his honor, we need to take the ‘lessons’ he gifted us with and pay them forward. Stay connected, celebrate life, practice forgiveness and be kind to one another and to strangers. Don’t be afraid to reach out, make a difference and see the positive aspects of life and the lives of those you come in contact with.”
Mr. Van Vechten was preceded in death by his parents, Isabel H. and Jay H. Van Vechten. In addition to his wife, Mr. Van Vechten is survived by their son Nicholas, grandson Alex and countless friends.