J. Freeland Chryst

J. Freeland Chryst

Athlete, Coach, Father, Educator, Scholar, and Founder of the Jay Group


J. Freeland (Jay) Chryst of Lancaster passed away on October 19, 2017 at home with his family. Jay lived 90 remarkable years, leaving a legacy of extraordinary accomplishments and significant contributions to his community. Jay has enriched so many of our lives with his wit, wisdom, and kindness– in fact, the adventures of his life have been the inspiration for many legendary stories!

When Jay graduated from McCaskey High School (class of 1944), at the age of 17, he convinced his dad to help him enlist in the Navy where he joined his two brothers fighting in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the south pacific theatre. Jay’s experience in the Pacific was foundational and forged much of his philosophical perspective for the remainder of his life.

After the war, Jay attended Millersville State Teachers College, graduating with a B.S. Degree in Secondary Education. In addition to exercising his passion for football,(he served as captain of the team) Jay also discovered his love of history while at Millersville.  History became a lifelong interest which ultimately led him to a few summers of study at Oxford University. He was also a member of the Civil War Round table, a testimony to his having read at least a hundred books about the conflict.

Jay began his professional career as a Teacher and football coach at Curwensville High School in western PA. After one year, he was recruited by Armstrong Cork Company to represent their Industrial Products Division in Detroit MI. After nice successful years with Armstrong, Jay wanted to return to Lancaster.  An acquaintance in Detroit, the Hall of Fame baseball great, Charlie Gehringer suggested to Jay that he go home to his beloved Lancaster to “work with them, not for them” (referring to Armstrong).  Jay did just that, working a short time with American Advertising, and then founding Jay Advertising Sales Promotion in 1965 (later The Jay Group).  The business, now being led by his daughter Dana, has been the platform that allowed Jay and his family to actively engage in local civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of Jay’s favorite axioms was, “to whom much is given, much is expected”, a variation on the Biblical verse. He tried to live that vision every day and reinforced this philosophy with his family.

As the leader of the Jay Group, Jay’s operating philosophy was underpinned by the idea that employees were the engine that made the business great. He sought out and engaged his employees. The relationships that he established over the years, in many cases, extended well beyond the confines of any business relationship. Jay took a genuine interest in the people, wanting to understand their backgrounds, ambitions, and personal challenges. It was not unusual for him to offer a “leg up” when he thought the situation warranted. Jay knew that life had presented him with tremendous opportunity and he endeavored to extend those same opportunities to others.

Jay was a generous supporter of generations of students at both McCaskey High School and Millersville University. At McCaskey he established the J. Freeland Chryst Football Scholarship and with his daughter Dana, funded the construction of Chryst Pavilion. At Millersville he established a scholarship to support student athletes, contributed to the renovation and re-dedication of what are now Chryst Hall and Chryst Field and was the Chairperson and a key contributor in two campaigns that raised significant capital for the university. In 1998 he was recognized by Millersville with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

While Jay was born into humble circumstances, this award (one of many bestowed) and his strong traditional values, high expectations of himself and others, determined work ethic and loyalty to family, friends, and business associates are testimony to a life full of energy, dedication, ambition and significant success.

J. Freeland Chryst, the fifth child of John and Effie Chryst is survived by and will be lovingly remembered by his sister Nancy Wolfer

and his daughters Christine Currie and Dana Chryst and their families.  He has five grandchildren including grandson Blake Chryst Dudek, the 3rd generation family member involved in The Jay Group. He also had tremendous affection for his many nieces and nephews.

Semper Fortis !  The unofficial Navy motto, meaning Forever Strong, very fitting for this extraordinary man!

Services will be held:

Monday, October 23: Viewing: 5:30 – 7:00 pm  in the Bachman Funeral Home

7 South Decatur Street, Strasburg, PA

Tuesday, October 24: Viewing: 9:00 – 10:30 am; Funeral: 10:30 am

Willow Street Mennonite Church, Penn Grant & Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street, PA

Graveside service immediately following

3 thoughts on “J. Freeland Chryst

  1. I was hired on as a Jay Group employee in 2005 to 2010 and I remember Jay being a sweet guy who always gave hugs to the women at The Jay Group for all the great work they had done. After being away from The Jay Group I had the opportunity to get hired back on this year. So sorry for your loss Dana and family Jay will always be remember as the founder of the Jay Group who always put his employees first.

  2. Dana, so very sad to hear that Jay passed. My heart goes out to you. He was a very cool guy . Just only heard about his passing in a conversation with my sister. He was extraordinary and will be deeply missed.

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