Richard M. Furlaud, 95

April 15, 1923 - Sept. 10, 2018
Richard M. Furlaud, April 15, 1923 - Sept. 10, 2018

Described as “a man of tremendous intellect and energy,” a true gentleman, and a visionary in his field, Richard Mortimer Furlaud’s career “included the stewardship of many of America’s premier institutions,” his family wrote. 

As president and C.E.O. of Squibb Beech-Nut, Mr. Furlaud built the company into a pharmaceutical giant that eventually merged into Bristol-Myers Squibb. After retiring from the company in 1991, he became chairman of American Express, International Flavors and Fragrances, and the Rockefeller University board of trustees.

“Widely respected as a visionary and a problem-solver, he brought to bear at each of these differing institutions a great ability for strategic planning, team building, and charismatic leadership,” his family said.

Mr. Furlaud, who had been in good health until this summer, died on Monday at home in East Hampton surrounded by his family. He was 95. A resident of Palm Beach, Fla., he had summered in East Hampton for 50 years.

Mr. Furlaud was born in New York City on April 15, 1923, to Maxime Hubert Furlaud and the former Eleanor Mortimer, but he grew up “in the tumult of Europe before the Second World War,” his daughters said. His family had moved to Paris seeking better economic opportunities, but then fled back to the United States to escape the war. “His father packed up everything in the car” as German forces advanced, and the family drove south, making their way back to the U.S. via Spain in 1941, his daughters said. 

Upon returning to this country, he enrolled at Princeton University, graduating in 1943. An accomplished athlete, as a teenager he won the Swiss Interscholastic Skiing Championship. At Princeton, he played number-two on the tennis team and “was proud of the fact that he never lost a tennis match,” his family wrote.

He went on to Harvard Law School, but his tenure there was interrupted “because he didn’t have the tuition,” his daughters said. He returned to Europe to work and was able to “put himself and his brother through school by selling cigarettes on the black market in postwar Germany.” He earned a law degree from Harvard in 1947. 

“He was a self-made man,” his daughters said yesterday. He was also “a man of deep philanthropic principles, and throughout his career he was committed to the advancement of medical science through research.”

In presenting him with an honorary degree in 1998, Rockefeller University wrote that he was “a vital force in advancing basic research since he entered the pharmaceutical industry in the 1950s. A brilliant strategist with a deep commitment to furthering scientific understanding of the basis of human health and disease, he has diligently promoted cutting-edge research efforts that have benefited countless people throughout the world.”

In East Hampton, Mr. Furlaud was a longtime supporter of the East Hampton Library. 

“He was a real gentleman, and everyone who knew him remarked on how charming and how graceful he was,” his daughters said. “He was a lovely man.” 

He enjoyed traveling the world with his wife of 37 years, Isabel P. Furlaud, “the love of his life and fellow adventurer.” She survives him. He was immensely proud of his children and grandchildren.

Mr. Furlaud’s three children from his first marriage, to Elspeth Banks — Richard M. Furlaud Jr., Eleanor J. Adam, and Tamsin F. Rachofsky of New York City — all survive. Also surviving are seven grandchildren. A grandson, Alex Adam, died before him, as did his brother, Maxime Furlaud. 

Mr. Furlaud was cremated. A private service will be held tomorrow at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton. 

The family has suggested contributions to the East Hampton Library, 159 Main Street, East Hampton 11937.