WILMINGTON, DE -- Robert Pray Barnett, age 90, of Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, DE, passed away on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at his home in Rehoboth.
Born in 1921 in Albany, Georgia, he was the son of the late Dr. James Miller and Gladys M. (Smith) Barnett.
Robert graduated from Albany High School 1937 and attended Marion Military Institute, Alabama.He graduated in 1942 from Duke University where he was All-American center and captain of Duke's Rose Bowl Team in 1942. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Duke Law School in 1947. He was the recipient of the 1966 Sports Illustrated Silver Anniversary All-American Award and was inducted in to the Albany Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
He retired as president and chief executive officer of ICI Americas (currently Astra/Zeneca)in 1982. He was with the former law firm of Lynch and Herrmann of Wilmington prior to joining Atlas Powder Company in 1951. He was senior attorney in the Atlas legal department at the time he was appointed assistant to the senior vice president in 1958. Named general manager of the international division in 1959, he was elected vice president in 1961, continuing in that position after the merger of ICI America and Atlas Chemical Industries in 1972. He was elected executive vice president of ICI America in January, 1974. He was named president of the company in July, 1974, when its name was changed from ICI Americas to ICI United States Inc. In January, 1975, he was elected board chairman and chief executive officer. When ICI Americas and ICI United States were combined in September, 1977, he was named executive vice president and appointed to president and chief executive officer in 1980. He retired in 1982 and in 1983 joined the Wilmington law firm of Potter Anderson & Corroon as Counsel. During the 80's and 90's he worked with the KAO Corporation of Japan and was deeply involved in the acquisition of several U.S. companies including Andrew Jergens Company of Cincinnati, OH.
During World War II, he served and saw combat overseas in all the campaigns of the Third Marine Division (including Iwo Jima) and was decorated and retired from the Marine Corps in 1945 with the rank of Major and entered the Marine Corp Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Predeceased, along with his parents, his second wife of 29 years Penelope (Mumford) who died in 2004 and his first wife of 31 years Elizabeth (Allen) who died in 1974, granddaughter Candice and brothers James and Ewing.
Survived by sons Robert and wife Karen of California, David and wife Robin of Bruceton Mills, WV, and Eric of New Castle, DE, granddaughters Kimberley, Kristen, Evelyn, and grandsons Robert, Christopher, David, James and Benjamin, sister Gladys Dowdell and brother-in-law Clark Dowdell of Albany, GA and sister-in-law Anne Barnett of Savannah, GA.
He was a member of the Delaware and American Bar Associations, former member of the Delaware Chamber of Commerce and the University & Whist Club. He was a member of the Wilmington Club, Wilmington Country Club and Rehoboth Beach Country Club. In past years, he had been president of the New Castle Economic Development Corp, chairman of the Greater Wilmington Development Council Education Project, co-chairman of the Governor's Task Force for Excellence in Education. He had served on the board of directors of the Wilmington Country Club, University of Delaware Research Foundation, the Grand Opera House and as chairman of the Rodney Square Club. He also served as chairman of the trustees (1997-2002) and on the board of directors, Christiana Care, and on the board of directors, Beebe Medical Foundation.
He formerly served on the board and executive committee of the Delaware Business Roundtable and the board of directors of the Chemical Manufacturers Assn. He also served as chairman of the New Castle County Zoning Board of Adjustments and as a member of the State Board of Corrections.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, June 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM at CHANDLER FUNERAL HOME, 2506 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803, where friends and family may visit beginning at 10:00 AM. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations may be made to Christiana Care Helen F Graham Cancer Center, Office of Development, PO Box 1668, Wilmington, DE 19899; or Save Our Lakes Alliance 3, PO Box 1504, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971.
Chandler Funeral Home
Wilmington, DE 302/478-7100