An art director and graphic designer, George Delmerico made a mark in the 1970s as newspapers sought to enhance their looks by producing eye-catching layouts.
Hired as the first art director for the glossy Sunday magazine Newsday launched in 1972, he went on to work for The New York Times and The Village Voice, having earlier worked for New York magazine.
Delmerico, 67, died Sunday of a heart attack at a hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Ken Volok, his partner of nearly 20 years.
Delmerico "was a light that lit up the room with his smile," Volok said.
Delmerico has said he made his 1976 move to The Village Voice "at the request of Milton Glaser, my dear, incredible mentor" and that his experience there "changed my life drastically . . . for which I am as per the usual nonsense, 'eternally grateful.' "
At Newsday, "he did a very good job for us," producing innovative layouts -- "good-looking stuff," said Stan Green, then the Sunday magazine's managing editor.
"He was more of a coach than a boss," said Miriam Smith, whom Delmerico hired as an assistant designer for the Newsday magazine. When an error she made came to light on her first week on the job, Delmerico simply said, "OK, we'll take care of it," never saying she was responsible or chewing her out. "That just made me love him," said Smith, now an art director with City University of New York.
Also a designer of book and album covers, Delmerico created a poster featuring Marvel Comics superhero images for a 1972 multimedia comic book presentation Stan Lee did at Carnegie Hall, said his sister, Nancy Delmerico Vitagliano, of Dobbs Ferry.
Born and raised in Dobbs Ferry, Delmerico received a fine arts degree from the Pratt Institute in New York City and studied at the Royal College of Art in London.
Moving to Santa Barbara in 1985, he worked for the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper and, until his 1995 retirement, served as publications director for the University of California at Santa Barbara, according to his family. A survivor of HIV for more than 20 years, he also did pro bono work for area community groups, his family said.
A music lover, he enjoyed creating playlists for friends and family, and curating audio compilations, said Delmerico Vitagliano, who worked for Newsday's Kidsday staff in the early 1980s.
Besides his partner and sister, he is survived by another sister, Jean Delmerico Moczarski, of Peekskill; and a niece and nephew. Memorial services are being planned on both coasts, his family said.