ROBERT D. STUART April 26, 1916–May 8, 2014
Robert D. Stuart, Jr., believed to be the oldest living Los Alamos Ranch School graduate, has died at the age of 98.
The former Ambassador to Norway, long time chief executive of the Quaker Oats Company, and leader in civic and business affairs for more than 60 years, died May 8, 2014 en route from France to the United States with his beloved wife Lillan.
Whether business, politics, or philanthropy, Ambassador Stuart’s consistent ambition was to live up to the title of his privately published memoirs: Making a Difference. By all accounts, he did. As a young law student at Yale in 1940, Stuart joined with a group of classmates, including Gerald Ford, Potter Stewart and Kingman Brewster–a future U.S. President, Supreme Court Justice and Yale College president–to found the America First Committee, a grass roots organization dedicated to keeping America out of the developing European conflict. At its peak, America First had as many as 800,000 members.
After his discharge from the Army in 1946 with the rank of Major, he returned to law school at Yale. Upon graduation, he joined the Quaker Oats Company, co-founded by his grandfather Robert Stuart and led at the time by his father R. Douglas Stuart and uncle John Stuart. He spent 38 years at Quaker, the last 15 as chief executive, and during his tenure pushed to diversify the company and to expand its international presence. Two themes animated his leadership: a belief in the power of strong brands and the certainty that corporations like Quaker had a duty both to their shareholders and to the communities in which they lived and operated. From the time he became president in 1962 to his stepping down in 1984 to join the diplomatic corps, sales grew from $365 million to more than $3 billion.
As Ronald Regan’s ambassador to Norway from 1984 to 1989, Amb. Stuart followed in the tradition of his father, who was the American ambassador to Canada in the mid-1950s. The younger Stuart served in the waning years of the Cold War, when Norway’s location north of the Barents Sea and its proximity to the former Soviet Union was of great strategic relevance both to the United States and to NATO. He fell in love with Norway, as did his wife Barbara. The feeling was apparently mutual, as the Norwegian press termed Ambassador Stuart “en flink gutt”– a good guy. Upon his return from Norway, he was nominated for the Defense Base Case Closure and Realignment Commission by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and then President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Robert D. Stuart, Jr. was born in 1916 in Hubbard Woods, Illinois and grew up in Lake Forest. He graduated from Princeton University in 1937, where he earned a degree in politics. In 1938, he married the former Barbara Edwards from Syracuse, NY. They had five children, three of whom survive him. His wife died in 1993, and two years later, he married Lillan Lovenskiold, a Norwegian whom he had met during his time as ambassador, who along with her late husband, had been close friends. She was the second great love of his life.
For many years, he was a trustee of Princeton University. He also served as a director of United Airlines, the Burlington Northern Railroad, the First National Bank of Chicago Deere and Company, and Molson Companies, Ltd. of Canada. A life long Republican, he served as National Committeeman from Illinois and Finance Chair in Illinois for the Reagan campaign, among many assignments. In 1962, he founded the Lake County Republican Federation, reflecting his long-standing belief in the importance of local politics.
As his political and business interests wound down, Amb. Stuart focused on philanthropy, founding a family foundation that supported civic education, campaign finance reform and national security.
Ambassador Stuart was pre-deceased in death by sons Huntingdon Douglas Stuart and R. Douglas Stuart III. He is survived by his wife Lillan, sister Margaret, his son James M. Stuart and wife Dianne, daughter Marian S. Pillsbury, son Alexander D. Stuart and wife Robin, daughter-in-law Nancy M. Stuart, eight grandchildren–Pamela Stuart, Donaldson Pillsbury, Jr., Blair Pillsbury Enders, Wendy Pillsbury Eichmann, Christopher Stuart, Ann Robinson Stuart, and Robert Douglas Stuart IV, as well as six great-grandchildren: Clark and Annika Pillsbury, Nicholas and Marian Enders, and Tyler and Sam Eichmann. Ambassador Stuart also had numerous Norwegian step-children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He adored them all, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. And they adored him.
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