McGinnis—National Council member, trustee, alumnus—dies at 76

  • March 13, 2024
  • By Kurt Greenbaum
  • 2 minute read

W. Patrick McGinnis, a WashU Olin grad whose later leadership spanned the globe and whose philanthropy and engagement enriched the university, died on March 5, 2024. He was 76.

Mr. McGinnis—who worked his way up at Ralston Purina from newly minted WashU MBA to the executive suite as president, CEO and chairman of the board—died peacefully at his home in western Florida near Tampa with his wife, Marian, at his side.

Along the way, Mr. McGinnis, MBA 1972, remained attached to the university, serving in a variety of roles, including Olin National Council member and trustee for the university. He spoke to new MBAs as they began orientation in 1995, and in 2002, he established an endowed professorship at Olin, the W. Patrick McGinnis Professorship in Marketing. Olin's Seethu Seetharaman has held that professorship since 2010.

"I am deeply saddened to hear of Pat McGinnis’ passing," Seetharaman said. "I have been privileged to hold the inaugural Pat McGinnis chair, since 2010, which Pat generously endowed to Olin Business School. Pat was a great friend and benefactor of Washington University, and an impactful leader at Nestle-Purina."

I was so fortunate to meet and mingle with him on multiple occasions. His visionary leadership will be forever remembered.  

Seethu Seetharaman

Mr. McGinnis' connection with WashU runs deep: His older son earned his MBA at Olin, his brother earned a BSBA and his late father graduated from the School of Medicine. Mr. McGinnis was born November 29, 1947, and raised in St. Louis, where he later considered careers in either medicine or business. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Denver, where he studied political science and economics.

Over his 44 years at Purina, he's credited with molding it into the major global player it is today. He played an integral role during the company's acquisition by Nestlé in 2001—at which point he became CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare Co—then led the company through the integration of the Purina and Friskies organizations. He stepped down January 1, 2015. During his career, he also served as an independent director and non-executive chair at Caleres.

For his service and career, Mr. McGinnis was named an Olin distinguished alumnus in 1993, an Olin dean's medalist in 2007, and received the WashU Founders Day Award in 1999.

An avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mr. McGinnis was also active in the community life of the region. His involvement included serving on a University of Missouri Athletic Department capital campaign and in a number of roles for the March of Dimes.

He is survived by his wife, Marian; two sons, Patrick (Haley), David (Melissa); step-children, Karen (Dr. Adam Birk), Mason and Ellen; grandchildren, Liam, Mackenzie, Hunter, Hudson, Luke, Weston, and Beau.

The family held a service on March 9, 2024, in Bradenton, Florida. A celebration of life is planned for the St. Louis area at a later time.

About the Author

Kurt Greenbaum

Kurt Greenbaum

As communications director for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to find and share great stories about our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I've worked for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management as communications director and as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sun-Sentinel in South Florida and the Chicago Tribune.

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