Retired former president of GodwinGroup, Charles Carmichael, died peacefully Sunday night at age 94. He left a lasting legacy in the company through his professionalism and generous gift of his time to building a better community. A Jackson, Mississippi native, he was a resident of St. Catherine’s Village in Madison for the past two years. From 1949 to 1989 he devoted 40 years of his life building GodwinGroup into Mississippi’s premier advertising agency. After retiring from GodwinGroup, Charles led Godwin Communications Resources, a not-for-profit company that assisted economic development organizations with marketing communications.
A graduate of Millsaps College and the Chicago Institute of Art, Mr. Carmichael was well-respected in the advertising community. He was the recipient of the Silver Medal Award from the Jackson Ad Federation for lifetime achievement recognizing outstanding contributions to advertising, and for furthering the industry’s standards of creative excellence.
Mr. Carmichael made his mark on the agency, and with his wife Sally at his side, made their mark on the greater Jackson community. Charles (Charlie to us) was a respected communications professional trusted by many blue chip clients. “A consummate professional, Charlie never wanted the credit, but instead chose the background so that his clients could get the glory,” said Gray Wiggers, former marketing director of longtime GodwinGroup client Trustmark Bank. Charles had a confident, gentle approach with both clients and agency staff. He was a man of faith in a “Mad Men” advertising era.
Sally and Charlie were passionately involved with the Mississippi Art Museum and many other cultural and civic organizations. Charles was a member of Galloway United Methodist Church where he served generously.
Charles was multi-talented. A literal one-man-agency band. He developed campaign ideas, wrote ad copy, developed media ad plans and even wrote speeches for CEOs. In addition to his creative skills, he acted as brand manager leading many GodwinGroup former clients such as Lamar Life Insurance, Mississippi Power and Light, and Yazoo Mowers. In 1985 he led the communications launch of the name change from First National Bank to Trustmark. “It was a privilege to learn the business from a Mississippi ad agency legend such as Mr. Carmichael. He was professional in every sense of the word and a mentor who was very patient with me when I joined Godwin in 1985,” said GodwinGroup president, Jeff Russell.
Always forward thinking, Charlie and business partners, George Godwin, Jr. and John Fontaine, planned well for business succession so that the agency had leadership in place to continue their legacy. In 1984 Carmichael, Godwin and Fontaine hired Danny Mitchell, who later became Chairman and CEO and the transition began. In 1989 Charles retired and Philip Shirley joined GodwinGroup on the same day. Philip, Chairman since 2010 and CEO since 2007, said, “I literally met Charlie in the hallway on my first day. I came to admire him very much. Charlie was the consummate gentleman, smart, and deeply passionate about Godwin’s role as part of the fabric of Mississippi business life.”
Charles and Sally had two children, Chris and Mike (Mikey). Mikey passed away too young. Chris retired from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and continues to care for her mother.