Press Release

Robert Anderson, Former Rockwell International Chairman, Dies at 85

By SpaceRef Editor
November 1, 2006
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Robert Anderson, Chairman Emeritus of Rockwell International Corporation, who was president and later chairman and chief executive officer of the multi-industry high technology company, notable as prime contractor of the NASA space shuttles and builder of the Air Force B-1 long-range aircraft, died Saturday, October 28, 2006 in Los Angeles. He was 85.

“Bob was widely recognized for his strong leadership in the aerospace and defense and automotive industries,” said Clay Jones, Rockwell Collins Chairman, President and CEO. “We mourn his passing and express our sympathies to his family for their loss.”

Mr. Anderson retired from Rockwell in 1988 after serving 18 years in the two top executive positions: elected president and chief operating officer in 1970, and then chairman and chief executive officer in 1979. He was named Chairman Emeritus in 1990 and had served on the Board as a director from 1968 to 1990. At the height of his tenure at Rockwell, company sales exceeded $10 billion with more than 125,000 employees in its aerospace, electronics, automotive, and general businesses. In the mid-nineties, the businesses were either merged with other companies or spun off. This included the sale of a large portion of its aerospace and defense business to the Boeing Company and the spin off of various business assets into Arvin Meritor, Conexant, Mindspeed, Jazz and Skyworks. In 2001, a final strategic spin off resulted in the formation of Rockwell Automation and Rockwell Collins.

Born in Nebraska on Nov. 2, 1920, Mr. Anderson earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University in 1943. He served as a captain in the United States Army Field Artillery until 1946.

Following his military service, Mr. Anderson spent 22 years with Chrysler Corporation where his career at the auto company included increasingly important executive positions in engineering, product planning, manufacturing, and marketing. He earned a master’s degree in automotive engineering from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering. While at Chrysler, Mr. Anderson was an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as chairman of its Detroit section in 1963 and 1964, and chairman of the SAE’s Engineering Activity Board in 1967.

Mr. Anderson participated in the development of the powerful “426 Hemi” engine for use by NASCAR racing great Richard Petty, who in 1964 won his first Daytona 500 race driving a Plymouth “hemi”. Plymouth finished 1-2-3 in that race. He was also instrumental in the creation and marketing of the Plymouth Road Runner, a successful production “muscle” car in its day.

Among his many honors and awards, Mr. Anderson received during his career was an honorary doctor of law degree in 1966 from Colorado State University and a subsequent presentation from his alma mater in 1967 of its Honor Achievement Award for “outstanding scholastic and professional achievement”. That same year, his native state designated him as “one of Nebraska’s 100 distinguished citizens”.

Mr. Anderson was a member of the board of governors of the Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA) and its chairman in 1978. He also served as a member of the board of the John Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, as well as the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena, CA and a board director at Aurora Capital Group and at Roller Bearing Corporation.

He was the national chairman of the United Nations Day for two successive years, and was honored for his chairmanship in June 1989.

Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife, Diane, and two children, Dr. Robert Anderson, Jr. of Blaine, WA, and Kathleen (Kit) Thomas of Vancouver, BC; two stepchildren, Keri Anderson of Brentwood, CA, and Erin Anderson of Tarzana, CA, and four grandchildren.

Memorial services are being planned.

Rockwell Collins
Media contact:
Nancy Welsh, 319-295-2123

SpaceRef staff editor.