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HomeBusinessRand V. Araskog, Former Chief of ITT Corp., Dies at 89

Rand V. Araskog, Former Chief of ITT Corp., Dies at 89

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Mr. Araskog graduated from West Point in 1953, then attended the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, studying Russian, before joining the Defense Department. He spent five years at the Pentagon, working in the office of the secretary of defense; the last two years were spent as a special assistant to the director of the nation’s nascent space program.

In 1955, Mr. Araskog proposed to Jessie M. Gustafson, who was studying library science and education at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. It was their first date, and another couple was in the car with them at the time.

In a phone interview, Ms. Araskog recalled being incredulous at her future husband’s quick proposal and seeking her mother’s advice. “He asked me to marry him — should I believe him?” she remembered telling her. “And my mother said, ‘I wouldn’t believe him if I were you.’”

But Ms. Araskog said yes, and the couple were married on July 29, 1956.

In 1960, Mr. Araskog took a job at the industrial giant Honeywell in Minneapolis. He worked in marketing and planning in the aeronautic division before joining ITT in 1966. At ITT he held senior positions in the company’s defense, aeronautics and telecommunications divisions before being named chief operating officer in 1978.

The next year a boardroom shake-up resulted in the ouster of his predecessor, and he was named chief executive. He was named chairman in 1980.

Mr. Araskog served on a number of corporate boards, including those of Dow Jones, Royal Dutch Shell and Target. As a philanthropist he donated money to, among other organizations, West Point, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the Henry Street Settlement, a social services organization in Manhattan.

After retiring from ITT in 1998, Mr. Araskog opened his own investment firm in Palm Beach.

In addition to his wife and daughters, he is survived by his son, William, and eight grandchildren.

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