FAIRFIELD, Conn., Jan. 2, 2004 — General Electric Co. chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt issued the following statement Jan. 1 on the passing of Reginald H. “Reg” Jones, who served as GE’s CEO and chairman from 1972 to 1981. Jones, 86, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Greenwich, CT, following a long illness.
“The entire GE family mourns the passing of Reg Jones, a great business leader, a gentleman and a good friend,” Immelt said “During his illustrious 42-year career at GE, Reg was a strong leader for GE, a model of integrity and a great statesman for the entire business community.
“Much of GE’s success over the years has been due to Reg’s clear thinking and sharp strategic vision for the company,” Immelt said. “Reg taught many of us what leadership is about through the way he conducted himself every day. We will miss him.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to the Jones family,” Immelt said.
Former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, who succeeded Jones, said, “Reg was a great man, a great leader, a great teacher, a quintessential business statesman, and a true friend.”
Jones was born on July 11, 1917 in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and moved with his family to the United States when he was eight years old. He graduated in 1939 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met Grace Butterfield Cole, who would be his wife for 63 years.
Jones’ entire business career was with GE. He joined the Company’s Business Training Course in 1939. Three years later, he began an eight-year tour as a traveling auditor, then moved into general management, serving as manager of company businesses in the consumer, utility, industrial, construction, and distribution fields. In 1968, he became the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, and was elected Senior Vice President two years later. In 1972, he became President, then Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric. As CEO, he brought new strategic direction to GE, emphasizing strong internal growth fostered by research and development, strategic planning and the introduction of the sector structure that “prepared the organization and the people to meet General Electric’s long-range growth opportunities in the decade ahead,” in Jones’ words. More information on his GE career is available at http://www.ge.com/en/company/companyinfo/at_a_glance/bio_jones.htm.
Jones advised four presidents on economic matters and in 1980, he was named the most respected U.S. business executive in a Wall Street Journal/Gallup survey. He also served as the chairman of the Business Council in 1979-1980 and was co-chairman of The Business Roundtable from 1974 to 1980.
After retiring, Jones served on several boards of several major companies including Merck, Bethlehem Steel and Federated Department Stores as well as continuing to serve as a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Penn, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, Howard and Colgate universities.
In 1982 he was knighted in a ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Jones is survived by his wife; a son, the Rev. Keith Edwin Jones of Summit, NJ; a daughter, Grace Seymour Jones Vineyard of Hendersonville, NC; and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on January 17 at the Second Congregational Church in Greenwich.
In lieu of flowers, Jones’ family asks that donations be made to the University of Pennsylvania Class of 1939 Scholarship Fund, c/o Joanne Hanna, University of Pennsylvania Development Office, 3451 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19104 and/or the Second Congregational Church of Greenwich Memorial Fund, 139 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich, CT, 06830.