Oscar Gustave Mayer, Jr

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Oscar Gustave Mayer, Jr

Birthdate: (95)
Birthplace: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Death: July 6, 2009 (95)
Fitchburg, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States
Place of Burial: Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Oscar Gottfried Mayer, Sr and Elsa Dorothy Mayer
Husband of Rosalie Ann Harrison and Geraldine Fitzpatrick
Father of <private> Mayer; <private> Mayer and <private> Mayer
Brother of Harold Max Mayer; Harold Max Mayer; <private> Mayer and Elinore Marie Mayer

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Oscar Gustave Mayer, Jr


Mayer, Oscar Gustave Age 95, passed away on Monday, July 6, 2009, at HospiceCare Inc. He was born in Chicago, IL, March 16, 1914, the son of Oscar Gottfried and Elsa (Stieglitz) Mayer. Oscar entered Nicholas Senn High School on September, 1926 and graduated in 1930. He played the clarinet in the Senn band, which won national high school band championships, 1929 and 1930. In September of 1930, Oscar entered Cornell University and graduated in 1934 with a BA Degree, and in September of 1934 he entered Harvard Business School. He withdrew from Harvard for health reason in January of 1936. He began full-time work at Oscar Mayer & Co., Chicago, IL, in April 27, 1936. On November 21, 1942, Oscar was united in marriage to Rosalie Ann Harrison. Together they moved to Madison in November of 1946, where they raised three sons and were active in the community for over 50 years. On June 20, 1998, Rosalie passed away. Oscar married Geraldine Fitzpatrick on January 9, 1999. In 1946, Oscar was transferred to the Madison, WI plant of Oscar Mayer & Co. He was elected President of Oscar Mayer & Co. in 1955, and in 1966, elected Chairman of the Board of Oscar Mayer & Co. Oscar retired from Oscar Mayer & Co. in 1977. In 1950, Oscar was appointed Chairman of First Madison United Givers Fund campaign. From 1957-1972 he served as Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, and in 1972, he was elected Honorary Trustee. He served as Director of Madison General Hospital (now Meriter) in 1959 to 1962. He was elected to the Board of Directors, American Meat Institute in 1961. He served as Trustee of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. from 1963 to 1983 and was elected Trustee Emeritus upon retirement as Trustee in 1983. Mr. Mayer served as Director of Wisconsin Telephone Co., 1969-1983 and served as Director of University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1969-1981. From 1970 to 1981, he served as Midwest Chairman of U.S. Savings Bond Drive. He served as Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from 1973 to 1978. In 1976, he was elected Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1977 he was elected Lifetime Honorary Member, Madison YMCA. Oscar Mayer received honorary LLD degrees from the University of Wisconsin in 1977, from Beloit College in 1981, and from Edgewood College in 1991. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 1980. He was named Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame Laureate in 1990 and in 1996 was elected to Wisconsin Meat Institute Hall of Fame. On May 7, 2000 he received Lifetime Achievement Award from Madison Community Foundation. Over the years, Oscar was active in many memberships in the following clubs: Maple Bluff Country Club, Madison Club, Chicago Club, Thunderbird Country Club, and Blackhawk Country Club. Oscar is survived by Geraldine, his loving wife of 11 years, his three sons, Oscar Harrison, Donald Lawrence, and William Edward; four grandchildren, Oscar Henry, Stephanie Mayer Heydt, Donald Lee, and Wendy Ann; four great-grandchildren, Oscar Raymond, Elizabeth Danuta, Charles Harrison Heydt, and Eleanor Gray Heydt, and his brother, Allan Carter. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Rosalie, brother, Harold Max, and sister Elinor Marie. Public visitations will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Rd., on Thursday, July 9, 2009, from 4-7PM and again on Friday, July 10, 2009, at the funeral home from 4-7PM. Funeral services will follow for extended family members. A public memorial event is being planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made, in memory of Oscar to: Madison Community Foundation, P.O. Box 5010, Madison, WI 53705-0010 and United Way of Dane County, 2059 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. CRESS FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICE 3610 Speedway Road (608) 238-3434 From the Wisconsin State Journal, July 8, 2009:

Oscar G. Mayer, 95, dies; was 3rd generation, retired chairman

By WILLIAM R. WINEKE For the State Journal

Oscar G. Mayer, 95, retired chairman of the company that bears his name, died Monday at HospiceCare Center in Fitchburg.

He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, once Madison's largest private employer. His grandfather, Oscar F. Mayer, died in 1955 and his father, Oscar G. Mayer Sr., died in 1965.

Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62, shortly after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods, and is now a business unit of Kraft Foods.

Ironically, although Mayer had, perhaps, the most famous name in Madison, many local residents didn't even know he was a real person. The company long used a midget, "Little Oscar" as its spokesman and the real Oscar Mayer, a tall, dignified and courtly man, rarely sought publicity.

He lived quietly in Madison and in his California winter home and, until very recently, could be spotted dining with old friends in one or another of the city's country clubs.

Mayer is the second high-level former executive from the company to die this year.

Robert M. Bolz, 86, died Jan. 19 of pneumonia at Capital Lakes Health Center after several months of poor health. Bolz retired as vice chairman of Oscar Mayer Foods in 1980.

Although Mayer held the highest office in his company and was considered largely responsible for building it into the nation's largest provider of processed meats, Mayer took great pride in his humble beginnings.

Oscar Mayer got its start in Chicago and purchased a slaughtering plant in Madison in 1919. Mayer joined the Madison operation in 1946. Madison became the company's corporate headquarters in 1955.

When I was very small, I can remember hanging out in my grandfather's meat market in Chicago and visiting the small sausage factory on the same block," he said in a 1973 interview.

After leaving Harvard University for health reasons, Mayer joined the family business in its Chicago accounting office in 1936.

"There were three accountants in the office and I was the flunky, making out payroll accounts by hand," he said. "I've always felt I might have a little better understanding of what people in our plant have to do because I did it myself — I've always seen our employees as individuals and I respect the hard work they do."

He also was a fierce guardian of Oscar Mayer's reputation as a good corporate citizen.

For years, as "Little Oscar" toured the country in the famed Wienermobile, he would hand out small hot-dog shaped whistles to children. Then, a physician warned the whistles could be caught in a child's windpipe. Even though the company had distributed millions of whistles without an incident and even though other physicians assured its manager the whistles probably wouldn't cause harm, Oscar Mayer immediately junked 2 million whistles.

In 1975, when the late Walter Frautschi, owner of a local printing firm, led a drive to raise money to renovate the old Capitol Theatre into what became the Madison Civic Center on State Street, Mayer proposed a matching grant to help kick it off.

The Oscar Mayer Foundation, press reports said, "surprised city officials...with the announcement of a $250,000 contribution for the Madison Civic Center."

The Civic Center's main theater was named the Oscar Mayer Theatre as a result.

Today, the Civic Center has been incorporated into a new arts center, the Overture Center, built with a $205 million gift by Frautschi's son, Jerry. Oscar Mayer joined the younger Frautschi at ceremonies renaming the theater, now the home of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Capitol Theater.

Mayer was a low-key but active participant in any number of civic and charitable activities.

He was the general chairman of Madison's first United Givers campaign in 1950, was a director for Meriter Hospital and the Meriter Foundation, the YMCA, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance and the Madison Chamber of Commerce. He donated a wing to the Attic Angels retirement apartments.

Mayer's first wife, Rosalie, died in 1998. In 1999, he married Geraldine Fitzpatrick.

Public visitations are scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road.

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Oscar Gustave Mayer, Jr's Timeline

March 16, 1914
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
July 6, 2009
Age 95
Fitchburg, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States
Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States