J. Brian Smith, who co-founded and built Smith & Harroff into a respected Washington-area PR and PA operation, died March 10. He was 64.

jay smithSmith, a former Republican Hill aide, joined with the late Mark Harroff in 1973 to set up the independent firm, which counts clients like the Nuclear Energy Institute, Westinghouse and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Smith, who went by the name "Jay," was CEO of the firm.

A 1971 graduate of Loyola College, he worked for the Republican National Committee after graduation through the 1972 presidential campaign. Smith briefly left S&H to serve as press secretary to House Republican Leader John Rhodes (R-Ariz.) during the debate over President Nixon's impeachment as Rhodes, a Nixon ally, pushed the president to resign.

Smith penned a 2005 biography of Rhodes, "Man of the House."

Rick Morris, president and senior partner at S&H who manages the firm, called Smith "a lifelong friend and business partner for more than 30 years."

Political clients of S&H have included Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.), and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu.