Robert McCollum 'Bob' Price
Bob passed away peacefully on December 31, 2020.
He was born in New Bern, NC, on September 26, 1930 to Mary Anne Yow Price and Robert McCollum Price, a US Army Chaplain. He and his sister Anne lived at more than 15 different posts with their parents, including post-war Germany where they witnessed the Berlin air lift. Along the way Bob became an Eagle Scout and Sea Scout, began his endeavors to master every sport on the planet and pursued (briefly and unsuccessfully) a thespian career. He attended Duke University and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1952. His time at Duke was the beginning of a life-long, if often frustrating, love for the Blue Devils football team, for whom he served as Student Manager, and all things Duke Blue. It is also where he met the love of his life, Mary Hope Walker. They were married on August 21, 1952 in the territory of Hawaii.
While pursuing an advanced degree in mathematics at UC Berkeley he was recruited to work at Lawrence Radiation Labs in Livermore, CA where he worked as a mathematician for Project Whitney on some of the world’s first and fastest computers (10,000 whole bytes of memory!), followed by tenures at General Dynamics, the Georgia Institute of Technology (where he also completed his master’s degree in mathematics) and Standard Oil. He began his career as a staff mathematician/computer programmer at Control Data Corporation in 1961 at the urging of his great friend and colleague, Dick Zemlin. He rose through the ranks over the next 25 years, helping Control Data grow from a Minneapolis start-up into a multi-billion-dollar global company. He became President and Chief Operating Officer in 1980, and served as Chairman, President and CEO from 1986 to 1990. He also served on more than 20 boards of Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, including Premark/Tupperware, Cooper Industries, Datalink, Affinity Technology Group, Rohr Incorporated and PNM Resources.
Throughout his career, he nurtured innovation, leadership and camaraderie with hundreds of friends and colleagues around the world and became a mentor and role model for many. His advice was sought after by everyone from investors launching new overseas companies, to three different US Presidents, to young people just starting out in their careers. After retiring from CDC, he served as Chairman and CEO of International Multifoods Corporation and founded and served as CEO of PSV, Inc. He also taught at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in their weekend MBA program and served as an Adjunct Professor in the Pratt School of Engineering, inspiring and encouraging a new generation of entrepreneurs and continuing his love for his alma mater. He received the Duke University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998-99 and was awarded a US Medal of Honor in 2006.
He was a life-long supporter of the arts and a generous philanthropist. He served on the boards of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Opera, the Greater Minneapolis United Way, and the 1991 Super Bowl Committee, among others. He also served on the Board of Visitors for the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Sciences Advisory Board. He was a long-time benefactor of the Santa Fe Opera, the University of Minnesota Athletic Program and School of Veterinary Medicine, The Nature Conservancy, and many, many more. In 1985 he led a consortium of corporations and individuals in the founding of the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs to encourage entrepreneurship throughout the non-profit sector, and to help individual non-profits create or expand social purpose business ventures.
He was a student of the world, enjoying everything from cooking schools in Tuscany, to grilling fresh caught Walleye on his annual fishing trips to Canada, to whipping up a batch of home-made sour dough pancakes prior to a day of skiing in Aspen. He went on adventures from Alaska to the Aegean, from Asia to the Amazon, and when he wasn’t showing his family the world, he was reading about it – and making lists to capture ideas for the next adventure. He was also a student of people and was totally interested in everyone he met – from cab drivers to corporate CEO’s to the friends of his children. He was a published author and poet of some renown – but only with those lucky enough to receive a Christmas poem complete with archaic word structure and Latin conjugations. He also planned on a second career as an archeologist, but settled for reading about it voraciously, and crafting elaborate “digs” in the garden of his beloved farm in southern Minnesota.
More than anything, his family meant the absolute world to him. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Mary, his three daughters: Elizabeth Delice Price Meland (Greg), Mary Leeper Hubbard, and Carrie McCollum Walkiewicz; two granddaughters: Carrie Elizabeth Eyler (Brian) and Jennifer Anne Dill (Jonathan); and four great-grandchildren: Alexa Anne Dill, Thomas Brian Eyler, John Robert Eyler, and Emmeline Elizabeth Dill. He is also survived by devoted nieces and nephews who he held close to his heart. He was pre-deceased by his sister, Anne, and his cherished brothers- and sisters-in law. Each of these family members, and many others, benefited from his generosity, his goofy sense of humor and his absolute commitment to their happiness. He made a mark on this world, and he will be dearly missed.
Published on January 3, 2021
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