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Robert Malott

1926 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Robert Malott Obituary
Robert H. Malott

Oct 6, 1926 - Apr 4, 2018

Robert Harvey Malott, former CEO and Chairman of FMC Corporation, died on Wednesday, April 4.

He was born in Boston on October 6, 1926 to Deane W. Malott and Eleanor Thrum Malott and had two younger sisters, Edith and Janet. The family moved first to Honolulu before relocating to Lawrence, Kansas where his father was named Chancellor of University of Kansas.

At the age of 16, Malott enrolled at the University of Kansas where he studied chemistry and played basketball. A year later, he enlisted in the Navy and served on an electronics repair ship stationed in San Francisco. After World War II, he returned to University of Kansas to finish his bachelor's degree, earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1950, and attended New York University Law School.

Malott worked for two years on the faculty of Harvard Business School before joining FMC Corporation in 1952. Bob met Elizabeth "Ibby" Hubert and the two were married in 1960. The couple had three children; Elizabeth, Barbara, and Deane.

In 1971, at age forty-five, he was elected CEO and soon moved FMC's headquarters from San Jose to Chicago to better oversee the diverse operations of the company. Throughout his two decades at the helm, Malott guided the company through significant global growth, leadership challenges and successfully defended the company from a hostile takeover attempt in the late 1980s by using innovative debt strategies. He retired from FMC in 1991.

Malott served on multiple corporate boards including Amoco, Argonne National Laboratory, Bell & Howell, Continental Illinois Bank, and United Technologies.

He was a dedicated philanthropist and served as a life director of the Lyric Opera Company of Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden. He served as chairman of the board of overseers of the Hoover Institution, a director of the American Enterprise Institute, and a trustee of the University of Chicago and the Aspen Institute. Malott was also chairman of the board of the National Museum of Natural History, on the boards of the Public Broadcasting Service, the National World War II Museum, and the National Academy of Sciences, and was a laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Malott was active in local and national politics, including serving as the finance chairman for James R. Thompson's three terms as Illinois governor.

He had a true passion for jazz music, photography and exploration travel. Malott ran the Colorado River in a wooden dory during the filming of a 1960 documentary about John Wesley Powell which led to a sixty-year membership in the Explorers Club. His love of adventure travel took him to both the South and North Poles, a dog sledded across Greenland, a circumnavigation of the Artic on an icebreaker, safaris in Africa, and countless family adventures.

Ibby predeceased him in 2003. Robert is survived by his three children, Liza, Barbara, and Deane; sons-in-law Chris Pohle and Keith Kizziah, daughter-in-law Jill Malott; and six grandchildren, Andrew, Elizabeth, Henry, Lane, Caroline and Clayton, and his sister, Janet Elliot.

A memorial service will be held at the Kenilworth Union Church on May 22, 2018 at 3pm. Donations may be made to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 16, 2018
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