Share |

Family business obituaries 2010

As with any year, deaths in the family happen and in the world of family businesses there were some prominent ones. Campden FB lists them and looks at their achievements.

Theo Albrecht: The highly secretive co-founder of German discount retailer Aldi, Theo Albrecht, died in July at the age of 88. Theo, along with his brother Karl, is credited with popularising the discount grocery store concept that made them both billionaires. Their business philosophy was based on their motto: "the best quality at the lowest price."

As the company grew more successful in the 1960s, the brothers decided to split the business in Germany into north and south, with Karl managing the south and Theo controlling the north.

Despite their business success, both brothers remained fiercely private. The last known photographs of the two are from the early 1980s. Their reclusiveness may be partly due to the fact that Theo was kidnapped in 1971 and only released after a ransom was paid 17 days later.

John E (Jack) Irving: One of Canada's foremost business families, the Irvings, lost second generation Jack Irving in July. Jack, who was the youngest son of revered industrialist KC Irving, died at the age of 78 following a brief illness.

Jack first joined his father and brothers in the growing group of Irving companies in 1952. When KC retired in 1972, Jack was named executive vice-president of Irving Oil.

However, much less is known about him in recent years as he took an increasingly back seat in the family business, which was often explained by his trauma endured from being kidnapped in the 1980s.

Harold McGraw Jr: The third-generation of the McGraw publishing dynasty, Harold McGraw Jr, died in March at the age of 92. Before he died, Harold was chairman emeritus of McGraw-Hill and had previously served as CEO, during which time revenues more than doubled and earnings per share more than tripled.

Harold received the highest literacy award in the US in 1990 for his services to education. He also encouraged the increasing use of technology in the family-controlled publishers. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the company, McGraw-Hill created the Harold McGraw Jr Prize for Education in his honour, which is given out annually.

Markus Liebherr: Markus died in August at the age of just 62. He was the third youngest son of Hans Liebherr, who founded Liebherr Group in 1949 after designing a new generation of construction cranes. Today, the family business has grown into a €7 billion company that employs over 32,000 people in more than 100 companies.

Markus was known in the UK for his purchase of struggling premiership football club Southampton FC in 2009, where he was hailed as a hero by the fans for lifting the club out of administration. 

When his father died in 1993, Markus gave most of his shares in Liebherr-International AG, the holding company entirely owned by members of the Liebherr family, back to his brothers and sister Willi and Isolde, who now run the company.

Edward A Fish: Founder of construction conglomerate EA Fish companies, Edward Fish did much for both sustainable construction and philanthropy in his lifetime. Known for his commitment to creating affordable housing alongside the commercial construction projects the business also ran, Edward died last June at the age of 77.

Edward worked in various roles in the business, including serving as president, until he stepped down in 1995 to be replaced by his son Edward Fish Jr. Before he died Edward was chairman of the family business. He was also a renowned philanthropist in his local area along with his wife Gretchen, who supported the Fish Centre for Women's Health and the Women's Hospital in Boston. 

Cindy Iannarelli: The renowned family business advisor Cindy Iannarelli was killed while on holiday in India in August this year. According to local press reports, Cindy was murdered and the case is still under investigation.

Cindy had spent many years helping families to use their companies to raise their children and for over 25 years she was the director of the US-based Bernelli Foundation, which began with a business plan competition in 1981. In 2005 the foundation launched Bernelli University, which uses the Bernelli 5+5+5 Entrepreneurial Learning, pioneered by Cindy.

Cindy was the former director of the Centre for Family Business at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a visiting lecturer at the Wharton Business School Family Enterprise Centre at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Click here >>
Close