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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Dr. Jay G. Blumler ’47

Dr. Jay G. Blumler, professor emeritus of communication science at the University of Leeds, where he established a television research center, and who has devoted his work to the impact of the audiovisual media on politics and voter behavior, died on January 30, 2021, at the age of 96.

Some researchers are marked forever by their work, their methods, their findings. Others radiate around them, they are team leaders, coaches. Jay G. Blumler possessed both of these talents.

Born February 18, 1924 in New York, of Russian origin, a father who remained a Marxist in the United States and a fervent mother in support of Roosevelt and the New Deal, Blumler studied at Antioch College, where the fundamental humanism of young Jay was forged, in this institution whose maxim is: “Be ashamed to die until you have achieved some victory for humanity.”

Passed by Georgetown University, then enlisted in the American army in 1944, as an interpreter in Russian, Blumler became, at the liberation of Berlin, president of the American Veterans Committee of the city.

Decades later, he will still remember having hosted Eleanor Roosevelt there for tea! He hesitated then between an academic career and music (he had been part of a quartet in Georgetown called “Four Freedoms”). He remained an incredible singer, with a strong baritone voice, willingly singing — at the end of work meetings, and even in his lessons — tunes of folklore, popular songs or jazz.

Jay died at his home in Leeds with his sons Matthew and Luke and his daughter Jackie at his bedside. Jay’s American son Mark was unable to be present due to the current travel restrictions.

Jay was a highly esteemed and much loved scholar in the field of Political Communication. He was based at Leeds University but liaised closely with many international colleagues.

From 1949 he taught political theory at Ruskin College, Oxford, before taking a position in Leeds in 1963, as Granada Television Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. In 1966 Jay established the Centre for Television Research and became the University’s first Professor of Public Communication in 1978. He retired from Leeds in 1989 but continued to publish prolifically as well as teaching for one semester each year at the University of Maryland

Jay had great zest for life, loved good food and music — and was known for embellishing his lectures with witty songs, delivered in his rich baritone.

Jay was preceded by the death of his dear wife Gina who died in 2004. The family thanks everyone for their warm tributes. No flowers by request. Donations may be made in memory of Jay to The Jay Blumler Student Hardship Fund via the link.

Funeral service followed by cremation will take place on February 22 at Rawdon Crematorium.

For further details please contact Coop Funeralcare, Horsforth Tel: 0113 2586921

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