John F. Welch Jr., known as Jack, who led General Electric through two decades of extraordinary corporate prosperity and became the most influential business manager of his generation, has died at 84.
The cause was renal failure, his wife, Suzy Welch, confirmed to The Times.
Combative and blunt, Jack Welch became the chief executive of General Electric in 1981. He took over GE a few months after Ronald Reagan became president. Those were a time of outsized gains for many of America’s big, multinational corporations and their leaders, helped by lower taxes and pro-business policies.
GE led the pack. The company’s revenue jumped nearly fivefold to $130 billion during Welch’s tenure, while the value of its shares on the stock market soared from $14 billion to more than $410 billion.
And it was a time when successful, lavishly paid corporate executives were more admired than resented. Welch received a record severance payment of $417 million when he retired. Fortune magazine named him the “Manager of the Century,” and in 2000 The Financial Times named GE “The World’s Most Respected Company” for the third straight year.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.