Peter Lewis, the second-gen US businessman who transformed Progressive Corporation into a multi-billion dollar company has died at his home in Florida over the weekend.
The eccentric billionaire became chief executive of the car insurer in 1965 and held the post for 35 years. He remained chairman until his death.
Lewis’s father, Joseph Lewis, co-founded the company in 1937 with Jack Green. Joseph had been grooming his son to take over, but died suddenly while Lewis was still a junior at Princeton University.
Following his graduation, Lewis worked as an accountant at the firm before taking the helm.
He transformed Progressive Corp by insuring high-risk drivers, who could not get insurance elsewhere, and drivers of expensive sports cars.
When he took over the company it had around 100 employees. Today the company, headquartered in Cleveland, has revenues of $17 billion (€12.6 billion)) and more than 25,000 staff.
Since retiring as chief executive of the family business Lewis had become better known for his philanthropy and his efforts to promote the legalisation of marijuana.
He had admitted to using the drug medicinally to help ease the pain he suffered from the partial amputation of his leg in 1998 following an incurable infection.
He is believed to have donated around half his personal fortune, estimated at $1.25 billion by Forbes, during his lifetime, including significant sums to the Democrat party's campaigns.
Lewis is survived by his second wife, Janet, three children from his first marriage, and five grandchildren.