William Schreyer, a former chairman and chief executive of Merrill Lynch who led its transition from a stock brokerage to a diversified global investment bank, has died at 83.
Mr Schreyer, who also gained recognition for donating millions of dollars to his alma mater, Penn State University, died on Saturday at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.
He had a 45-year career at Merrill Lynch and led the firm from 1985-1993. He became a familiar face on TV commercials after the 1987 stock market crash, telling viewers: “At Merrill Lynch, we’re still bullish on America.”
Colleagues remembered Mr Schreyer as a compassionate and decisive leader.
“He was a generous mentor to all of us who succeeded him,” said Daniel Tully, chairman emeritus of Merrill Lynch.
“He loved Merrill Lynch, and inspired those around him with an irrepressible sense of humour and optimism. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Mr Schreyer, a 1948 Penn State graduate, and his wife committed more than 58 million dollars (£36m) to the university. He was also a member of the school’s Board of Trustees from 1986-1998 and served as its president for three years.
Mr Schreyer was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where his father managed the local office of a stock brokerage that Merrill Lynch later acquired. He worked there part-time while in high school and joined Merrill Lynch as a junior executive trainee after graduating from college.
He became head of the firm’s Trenton, New Jersey, office in 1963 and then held a succession of positions in its retail branch office system before becoming the New York metropolitan area regional director in 1972. He became head of Merrill Lynch’s government securities subsidiary the following year.
Mr Schreyer became Merrill Lynch’s president in 1982 and was named CEO and chairman in 1985.