Jack Welch, a railroad conductor’s son who became chairman and CEO of General Electric and led it for two decades, growing its market value from $12 billion to $410 billion, has died. He was 84.
Welch died late Sunday March 1 2020 at home, surrounded by his wife, Suzy, and family, and his beloved dogs nearby. The cause of death was renal failure, his wife said Monday.
Mr. Welch, a native of Salem, Massachusetts, served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric (GE) from 1981-2001. He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1957 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1960. In 1960, Mr. Welch joined GE as a chemical engineer for its Plastics division in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He was elected the company's youngest Vice President in 1972 and was named Vice Chairman in 1979. In December 1980 it was announced that he would succeed Reginald H. Jones, and in April 1981 he became the 8th Chairman and CEO. He served in that position until he retired in September 2001.
Welch filed for divorce from his second wife, Jane, after reports surfaced that he was having an extramarital affair with journalist Suzy Wetlaufer. Four days before the divorce trial was to begin, Jack and Jane Beasley Welch reached a settlement that reports said was worth $180 million. He divorced his first wife, Carolyn, the mother of his four children, in 1987.
Complete information on survivors, besides Ms. Welch, was not available, but he had four children with Caroline B. Osburn — Katherine, John, Anne and Mark - and also had four stepchildren and 10 grandchildren.