Jim Cantalupo Was Preparing to Open Annual Franchisee Convention

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Jim Cantalupo, chairman and CEO of McDonald's Corp., has died of an apparent heart attack in Florida, according to the company.
Photo: AP
Jim Cantalupo, CEO of McDonald's, shown at a press conference last year.
Companion Story:
Annual Conference Becomes Extraordinary Day of Trauma and Transition

Mr. Cantalupo, 60, was in Orlando for the fast-foods giant's worldwide franchisee convention, where franchisees, employees and executives of advertising and other marketing services companies were gathered. According to the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, more than 13,000 people were expected for the event.

New leadership
Within hours, McDonald's moved quickly to appoint successors. Charlie Bell, the company's president and chief operating officer, was named president-CEO, and Andrew McKenna, the presiding director of the board of directors, was named non-executive chairman.

Today was the start of the convention, which was expected to be, in part, a celebration of the turnaround efforts that Mr. Cantalupo oversaw during the past 15 months. McDonald's delayed opening the worldwide convention until 12 noon EST.

Since coming out of retirement to replace Jack Greenberg as chairman-CEO, Mr. Cantalupo curtailed expansion to refocus the company in a back-to-basics approach that has helped reverse the company's first-ever earning loss and drive double-digit sales gains.

'Indelible mark'
"Our entire McDonald's system mourns this tragic loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with Jim's wife, Joann, and his family," Mr. McKenna said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathies go out to them. Jim was a brilliant man who brought tremendous leadership, energy and passion to his job. He made an indelible mark on McDonald's system."

Upon the news of Mr. Cantalupo's death, industry executives sent their condolences.

"Jim Cantalupo was a great champion of advertising a demanding and inspiring client and a lovely man," Linda Wolf, chairman-CEO of McDonald's longtime agency, Leo Burnett Worldwide, said in a statement. "His insight and devotion has had a profound impact on his company, its people and the industry. He will be missed by all of us."

"Jim embodied the very best that the restaurant industry has to offer," Steven C. Anderson, president-CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. "Not only did he have an extremely successful 28-year career at McDonald's, but he was active in philanthropic activities in ways that touched many lives."

Charitable works
Mr. Cantalupo's charitable contributions included president at the Chicago-chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society; past president of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies; a member of the board of trustees of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Most Popular
In this article: