John James Veronis was born on March 6, 1928, in New Brunswick, N.J., and grew up in Easton, Pa. He was one of six children of Greek immigrants; his father, Nicholas, had been a writer but took jobs in a fur factory and diners in the United States; his mother, Angeliki (Eftimakis) Veronis, was a homemaker.
After graduating from Lafayette College in Easton, John headed to Manhattan, where he was hired at Popular Science magazine and soon became its advertising director. He moved to Field and Stream, then to The American Home, a monthly magazine where he achieved a major breakthrough for the publication by bringing in advertising from Procter & Gamble. He rose to publisher; several years after the magazine was acquired by Curtis Publishing, he became president of the company’s magazine division.
After leaving Curtis, he spent nearly two years at the Interpublic Group of Companies, the advertising giant, where he conducted research on what motivated consumers. His findings revealed, among other things, the potential market for a magazine about psychology.
Coincidentally, in 1967, Nicolas Charney was trying to launch Psychology Today. Mr. Charney, who had a doctorate in biology and biopsychology and knew Mr. Veronis’s brother George, a prominent oceanographer, asked Mr. Veronis for help. Mr. Veronis guided him to business and circulation experts; once the magazine began publication, Mr. Charney contacted him again.
“We had a tiger by the tail, but our debts were growing,” Mr. Charney recalled by phone. “So I said: ‘Let’s join forces. I’ll give you half my stock and we’ll move forward as equal partners.’ He joined, and within two weeks he raised $1 million.”