Mr. Spencer began his career at Honeywell in the mid-1950s as an aeronautical engineer and ended it with an extraordinarily long tenure at the top. He was chief executive from 1974 to 1987.
After he retired, Mr. Spencer devoted his attention to philanthropy. He served on the boards of the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Mayo Foundation and the Minneapolis Foundation, as well as the board of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.
Edson White Spencer was born on June 4, 1926, in Chicago. His father, William Spencer, was a World War I hero and the chairman of the North American Car Corporation, a railroad car manufacturer. His grandfather, F. Edson White, was president of the meatpacking firm Armour & Company.
Mr. Spencer served in the Navy and later graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts. He went on to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Harriet McClure Stuart; three sons, Edson Jr., Douglas and James; a daughter, Linda Murchison; and nine grandchildren.
Along with his wife, Harriet, he founded the Yellowstone Park Foundation, which provides private financial support to the park. The Spencers were major contributors to a new visitor center at Old Faithful, among other projects at the park.