Air Products has announced that former Chairman and CEO Edward Donley died on the 1st of April at the age of 95. Donley was Chairman of Air Products from 1978-1986, CEO from 1973-1986, and President and CEO from 1966-1978.

Edward Donley

Edward Donley

Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products’ Chairman, President and CEO, stated, “Our heartfelt condolences go to the Donley family for their loss. Air Products is deeply saddened by the passing of this remarkable man.”

“Mr. Donley played a deeply impactful role in the formation of our company. His accomplishments as a leader were many and substantial, as he led the company through some challenging times and positioned Air Products in several areas for the success we continue to have today. Many of his ideals carry on daily in our company’s objectives, one of the most important being our total commitment to safety.”

Donley held several advancing roles with Air Products after joining the company as its 22nd employee in 1943. He began his career as an engineering graduate and designed portable oxygen generators for the Allied bombers in World War II. He was also a sales engineer, sales manager, vice president and general manager, and executive vice president prior to his appointments to higher positions held with the company, and eventually, as the first successor to Air Products’ initial Chairman, CEO and founder Leonard Pool. Donley retired in 1986 but continued to serve on Air Products’ Executive Committee until 1992 following his term as Chairman and CEO.

Donley was born on the 26th November, 1921. He graduated from Lawrence Institute of Technology (now Lawrence Technological University) in 1943 with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree. He completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme in 1959 and received honourary degrees from Lawrence Tech, Villanova University, Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College, Allentown College of St. Francis DeSales (now DeSales University), Cedar Crest College, Drexel University, Wilkes College, Lafayette College and Moravian College. The Society of the Chemical Industry gave him its highest honour, the Chemical Industry Medal, in 1980. The Pennsylvania Society awarded Donley its Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievements in 1986.

Donley’s main cause and passion was education. Donley served on the boards of Lawrence Tech (11 years as chairman), Carnegie-Mellon University, American College Testing (ACT), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering, the Council for Higher Educational Accreditation, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the United Negro College Fund. He helped found Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, led Pennsylvania 2000 and America 2000 initiatives, and chaired the Lehigh Valley Business-Education Partnership.

Donley also led many projects and partnered with several local organisations in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley area. He was on the board of Lehigh Valley Business-Education Partnership, where he served as chairman from 1989-1992. He served on the board of directors of the Lehigh Valley Partnership and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. He also served as chairman of the Development Committee of Community Services for Children/Head Start programmes. Donley and his late wife, Inez, gave most of their assets to The Donley Foundation, a trust now run by their children and grandchildren, which has granted millions to literacy and early-childhood education groups.