General Electric Company announced that one of its former chairmen and CEOs, Reginald H. "Reg" Jones, has passed away. Mr. Jones served as GE's CEO and chairman from 1972 to 1981.
"The entire GE family mourns the passing of Reg Jones, a great business leader, a gentleman, and a good friend," GE's current Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt said in a statement issued by the company. "During his illustrious 42-year career at GE, Reg was a strong leader for GE, a model of integrity and a great statesman for the entire business community.
"Much of GE's success over the years has been due to Reg's clear thinking and sharp strategic vision for the company. Reg taught many of us what leadership is about through the way he conducted himself every day. We will miss him," Mr. Immelt added.
Jack Welch, another one of GE's former chairmen and CEOs who succeeded Mr. Jones, said, "Reg was a great man, a great leader, a great teacher, a quintessential business statesman, and a true friend."
Mr. Jones was born on July 11, 1917 in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and moved with his family to the U.S. when he was 8 years old. He graduated in 1939 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met Grace Butterfield Cole, who would be his wife for 63 years.
Mr. Jones' entire business career was with GE. He joined the Company's Business Training Course in 1939. Three years later, he began an 8-year tour as a traveling auditor, then moved into general management, serving as manager of company businesses in the consumer, utility, industrial, construction, and distribution fields. In 1968, he became the company's CFO, and was elected senior vice president two years later. In 1972, he became president, then chairman and CEO of General Electric.
As CEO, he is said to have brought new strategic direction to GE, emphasizing strong internal growth fostered by research and development, strategic planning, and the introduction of the sector structure that "prepared the organization and the people to meet General Electric's long-range growth opportunities in the decade ahead," in Mr. Jones' words.
Mr. Jones advised four presidents on economic matters, and in 1980, he was named the most respected U.S. business executive in a Wall Street Journal/Gallup survey. He also served as the chairman of the Business Council in 1979-1980 and was co-chairman of The Business Roundtable from 1974 to 1980.
After retiring, Mr. Jones served on several boards of several major companies, including Merck, Bethlehem Steel, and Federated Department Stores, as well as continuing to serve as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Penn, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, Howard, and Colgate universities. In 1982, he was knighted in a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Mr. Jones is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter; five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
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