In Memoriam - JOHN G. SMALE

John G. Smale, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Procter & Gamble, passed away on November 19, 2011 at the age of 84
Monday, November 21, 2011 8:31 am GMT


John G Smale, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Procter & Gamble

John G. Smale, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Procter & Gamble, passed away on November 19, 2011 at the age of 84. He is preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis. John and Phyllis are survived by their four children, John Gray, Jr., Catherine Anne, Lisa Beth, and Peter McKee.

Mr. Smale joined P&G in 1952. He started out working in our dentifrice business, first with the Gleem brand and later with the Crest brand, where he played a key role in convincing the American Dental Association to recognize Crest as effective against tooth decay. This propelled Crest to category leadership, a milestone in P&G history.

In 1981, he became the seventh Chief Executive in the history of P&G. Under his leadership, P&G created a new vision for itself: to be a truly global company focused on providing an even broader range of innovative products to the world’s consumers.

The Company entered 15 new categories of business, expanded operations into 23 new countries, and doubled sales and earnings to over $24 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively. P&G reshaped its approach to all aspects of the business during this time as well, creating Category Management of similar products, restructuring our entire supply chain for greater efficiency and quality, and creating the first retailer-based sales teams.

As Ed Artzt, the CEO who succeeded Mr. Smale, observed, "The one thing that distinguishes John’s career as the leader of our Company has been his remarkable record as an agent for change."

Passionate in his belief that innovation is our lifeblood, Mr. Smale pushed to improve the Company's research programs. He remained an advocate his entire life and, in 1997, created a trust fund with his personal money to recognize individuals for outstanding technical innovation.

Mr. Smale was equally passionate about the values that have guided P&G since the days of our founders, William Procter and James Gamble, "...all institutions, if they’re worth anything ... have a soul. They do well, I think, primarily because they have, as a foundation, a character that allows people, encourages people to really dedicate a working life to them and to the fortunes of the Company. There was nothing written down about character and there were no P&G principles probably until the late '80s but that doesn't mean they weren't there. They were handed down in the sense of conversations in offices." In fact, Mr. Smale chartered a team to formally capture the Purpose, Values and Principles which continue to guide our Company today.

In 1990, Mr. Smale stepped down from the position of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He was always available, though, to talk strategy or give advice about business.

Current Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bob McDonald, reflected on the influence Mr. Smale had on himself and others, "I will remember John most for his character and how he represented the soul of the Company: Purpose-inspired, caring yet demanding, principled, and humble."

He was a great leader of this Company and he will be missed.

We invite you to share comments or personal memories of Mr. Smale on our P&G Facebook page.



Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

The Procter & Gamble Company

            A native of Listowel, Ontario, Canada, John G.  Smale graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 1949.  He joined Procter & Gamble's Toilet Goods organization in 1952.  He became General Manager of the Toilet Goods Division in 1966, and was elected Vice President of that Division in 1967.  Mr. Smale was elected Vice President-Bar Soap and Household Cleaning Products Division in 1968 and Vice President-Packaged Soap and Detergent Division in 1969.  In 1970, he was elected Vice President-Group Executive and two years later he was elected to the Procter & Gamble Board of Directors.  He became an Executive Vice President in 1973.

            Mr. Smale became President of Procter & Gamble, with responsibility for all of the Company's United States operations, in May 1974, and was named Chief Executive in January 1981.  In April 1986, he was named Chairman of the Board, while continuing as Chief Executive of the Company.  He stepped down from these positions in January 1990.  He retired as an employee of the Company on December 31, 1990 and retired from the Board of Directors on June 30, 1995.

            Mr. Smale was Chairman of the Board of the General Motors Corporation from November 1992 until January 1996, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of the General Motors Corporation until June 2000.  He is an Emeritus Trustee of Kenyon College.  Additionally, Mr. Smale was inducted into the Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame in September 1993, inducted into the National Business Hall of Fame in April 1996, and inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in March 2002.  He received the Great Living Cincinnatian Award from the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce in February 1997.  He also received the Order Francisco de Miranda in its First Class (the highest recognition Venezuela bestows unto a civilian) from President Caldera in March 1998 in Caracas, Venezuela.

            In May 1974, Mr. Smale received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio; in May 1979, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; in May 1983, he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana; in February 1985, he received an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree from St. Augustine's College, Raleigh, North Carolina; and in May 1986, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio.

            Additionally, he is a member of the following organizations:  the Queen City Club, the Commercial Club, the Cincinnati Country Club, and the Marathon Yacht Club.

            Mr. Smale was born August 1, 1927.  He married Phyllis Weaver in 1950.  She preceded him in death in 2006. Before Mr. Smale's passing on November 19, 2011, he was a resident of Marathon, Florida. John and Phyllis are survived by their four children: John Gray Jr., Catherine Anne, Lisa Beth, and Peter McKee.


Date of BirthAugust 1, 1927                                              

PlaceListowel, Ontario, Canada

Name of ParentsPeter J. and Vera G. Smale (both deceased)

EducationMiami University

Honorary Degrees:  

Doctor of Laws: Kenyon College, 1974

Doctor of Laws: Miami University, 1979

Doctor of Science: DePauw University, 1983

Doctor of Civil Laws: St. Augustine's College, 1985

Doctor of Laws: Xavier University, 1986

Married:  Phyllis Weaver                                                       

DateSeptember 2, 1950

Children:  John Gray, Jr.; Catherine Anne; Lisa Beth; Peter McKee

Business Affiliations Prior to Joining Procter & Gamble:

Vick Chemical Company -- New York

Bio-Research, Inc. -- New York

Dated Joined Procter & Gamble:  October 1952

Positions Held and Dates: 

            1952 -- Assistant Brand Manager

            1954 -- Brand Manager

            1958 -- Associate Advertising Manager

            1963 -- Manager, Advertising Department, Toilet Goods Division

            1966 -- Manager, Toilet Goods Division

            1967 -- Vice President-Toilet Goods Division

            1968 -- Vice President-Bar Soap and Household Cleaning Products Division

            1969 -- Vice President-Packaged Soap and Detergent Division

            1970 -- Vice President-Group Executive

            1972 -- Member, Board of Directors

            1973 -- Executive Vice President

            1974 -- President

            1981 -- President and Chief Executive

            1986 -- Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive

            1990 -- Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors

            1995 -- Retired from Board of Directors        

Local Recognition:

Greater Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame - 1993

Greatest Living Cincinnatians Award – 1997

Local and National Activities: 

Emeritus Trustee, Kenyon College


Queen City Club

Commercial Club

Marathon Yacht Club – Marathon, Florida

Past Affiliations:

Member and Chairman (1992-1996), Board of Directors, General Motors Corporation

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board, General Motors Corporation

Member, Board of Directors, Hughes Electronics Corporation

Member, Board of Governors, The Nature Conservancy

Member, Board of Directors, J. P. Morgan & Company, Inc.

Member, Board of Directors, Rand-McNally

Member, Board of Directors, Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust

Chairman, Cincinnati Infrastructure Commission

Trustee, Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts

Director, Eastman Kodak Company

Vice Chairman, The Business Council

Member, Business Roundtable

Member, Governing Board, Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Chairman, Berol Corporation           

Member, Board of Directors, Grocery Manufacturers of America

Member, Board of Directors, Atlantic Salmon Federation

Member, CEO Council of the International Life Sciences Institute, Nutrition Foundation

Member and Chairman, Board of Directors, United Negro College Fund, Inc.

Member, Cincinnati Business Committee

Member and President (1980-81), Commonwealth Club

Member and President (1990-91), Commercial Club

Member, Conference Board

Member, Health & Human Services Advisory Committee on the FDA

Co-Chairman, Mexico-U.S. Business Committee

Member, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company International Council

Board of Governors, United Way

Director, National Park Foundation

Member, National Advisory Board, Goodwill Industries of America, Inc.

Member, Business & Professional Friends Committee of the National Center for Stater Courts

Member, Listed Company Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange

Director, Council for Financial Aid to Education

Member, Business Committee for the Arts

Member, President's Cabinet, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo

Trustee, Cincinnati Museum Association

Member, Executive Committee, Cincinnati Area Chapter, The American National Red Cross

Member, Board of Directors, Cincinnati Area Chapter, The American National Red Cross

Member, Business-Higher Education Forum of American Council on Education

Dean's Associate, Miami University of Business Administration

Member, Airport Advisory Board, Greater Cincinnati Airport

Member, Board of Trustees, Cincinnati Nature Center


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