BMW of North America announced that Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing, was killed earlier today "in a tragic accident while on vacation at his farm." Pitney, 47, lived in Ridgewood with his wife, Quincy, and their five children, according to Tom Kowaleski, vice president of corporate communications for the Woodcliff Lake importer. "He was working on his tractor on his farm in Dutchess County (N.Y.)," Kowaleski said. He had no further information. Pitney was a well-known and liked figure in the auto industry. A former manager of public relations for Mazda, Pitney moved from head of BMW public relations to launch the company's successful Mini lineup of British-made small cars. As vice president of marketing at BMW, he launched new vehicles for the Bergen County importer such as the small 1-Series and X-model sport activity vehicles. Pitney was named general manager of the Mini brand in 2001 at the age of 38. He and a small team of BMW managers convinced their superiors that the tiny car could be sold for a profit in the difficult U.S. market. The move was a gamble for BMW, as it revived the Mini name as a fun British car that was popular in the 1960s. BMW put the Mini Cooper in a premium price class for such a small vehicle but allowed young buyers to accessorize it with various options. It became wildly popular and convinced other auto makers that they could sell small cars if they were fun to drive and had the features of larger cars. Pitney was supposed to assume the position of vice president for the Eastern Region on Sept. 1, and be responsible for sales, marketing and dealer activities in the crucial New York metropolitan area. He served as vice president and general manager of MINI from 2001 to 2005 as he launched the brand's reintroduction in this country. A popular film, "The Italian Job" featured Minis as getaway cars during a heist. Pitney joined BMW in 1995 as head of corporate communications. He was a former vice president at Hill and Knowlton in Los Angeles, heading the Mazda account. He also worked as vice president at GCI Group/Los Angeles, overseeing the launch of Infiniti, Nissanâ€™s luxury car division. He also worked for Ruder Finn Public Relations in New York, Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos Advertising, and Bauer & Rosner Marketing Communications. Pitney started his career in the advertising department at a newspaper in Brooklyn. Born in Stamford, Conn., he earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Occidental College.