CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Oscar G. Mayer, third-generation heir to the iconic meat processor, has died at the age of 95. Mr. Mayer was grandson to Oscar F. Mayer, who founded the company with his brothers in 1900. Mr. Mayer worked at the family business for 41 years, retiring in 1977 as chairman. He is credited with building the company to $1 billion in sales, and preserving the brand's unique personality.
Oscar Mayer is now a division of Kraft Foods. According to a Kraft statement on his passing, "With Oscar G. Mayer's passing the food industry and the Madison [Wis.] area have lost an innovator, an advocate and a friend. Oscar was an inspiring leader who worked tirelessly for the company his grandfather founded and for the entire Madison community. All of us at Kraft Foods are deeply saddened by his passing and we extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family. Oscar will truly be missed." The statement went on to say: "He lived a life of generous contribution. His leadership made Oscar Mayer and our community a better place."
Family members were not available for interviews.
Joined biz in 1936
Mr. Mayer joined the family business as a production trainee in 1936, after graduating from Cornell University and Harvard Business School. Described as "hard-working, tall and dignified," Mr. Mayer rose quickly through the company's ranks. He was named president in 1955 and chairman in 1966.
After his retirement, the company was sold to General Foods, and then to Kraft. Mr. Mayer remained involved with the business, meeting regularly with company presidents Rick Searer and Nick Meriggioli.
Mr. Mayer lived in Madison, Wis., and he was one of the first inductees into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame. He was also known for his charitable work. He headed Madison's first United Way Campaign, and served as director of Madison's YMCA, Chamber of Commerce and General Hospital.
He died Monday in HospiceCare Center, in Fitchburg, Wis.