Donald M. Kendall was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo for 21 years before his retirement in May 1986. Kendall served as Chairman of the Board’s Executive Committee from 1986 until 1991.
Kendall, a National Business Hall of Fame laureate, was recognized as one of the giants of American industry. Not only did he build one of the world's premier consumer products companies; he also used his position in business to serve his nation, to advance the cause of international understanding and to promote human equality and justice.
Kendall joined Pepsi-Cola Company as a fountain syrup sales representative following distinguished service in World War II as a Naval aviator. He advanced from sales to managing a sales crew, to managing sales for all company-operated plants. In 1951 he became assistant national sales manager, and a year later was promoted to vice president in charge of national sales. In 1956 he became vice president in charge of marketing for the United States, with responsibility for all sales, advertising and promotion.
In 1957, Kendall became President of Pepsi-Cola's overseas operations. Under his leadership, Pepsi-Cola's international presence expanded dramatically. The number of countries in which Pepsi-Cola was available more than doubled and sales tripled.
Kendall was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Pepsi-Cola Company in 1963. He launched a series of marketing and management innovations that accelerated the sales of Pepsi-Cola. And he added new products, such as Diet Pepsi-Cola and Mountain Dew, to broaden both the company's product line and its consumer base.
In 1965, Kendall engineered the merger that brought Pepsi-Cola Company together with Frito-Lay to create PepsiCo, Inc. Kendall was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the new company. He was elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1971, a position he held until his retirement.
Under Kendall's leadership, PepsiCo became one of the largest corporations in the United States. PepsiCo divisions also expanded their operations to new areas of the world, including the former USSR (where Pepsi-Cola was the first foreign consumer product to be sold) and the Peoples’ Republic of China.
Throughout his career, Kendall has been extremely active in a wide variety of key cultural, economic and political organizations, both domestically and internationally. Major appointments include: National Alliance of Businessmen (Chairman, 1969; director for eight years), US-USSR Trade and Economic Council (first US Co-Chairman, 1973-1977), Emergency Committee for American Trade (Chairman, 1969-1976), the Chamber of Commerce of the United States (Chairman of the Board, 1981-1982), National Center for Resource Recovery, Inc. (Chairman from 1970 to 1976), Grocery Manufacturers of America (Chairman from 1969-1971) and the American Ballet Theatre Foundation (Chairman of the Board, 1977-1983).
Kendall served on the Board of Directors of Orvis. He was also a Director of the Institute for Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming.
Kendall was widely recognized for his contributions to American business. In 1987, the Board of Editors of Fortune magazine selected Mr. Kendall for induction into the National Business Hall of Fame, where he joined such business legends as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Alfred Sloan and John D. Rockefeller. The award recognizes "outstanding business leaders who have contributed significantly to the growth of the private enterprise system and of this country."
Recognition of Kendall's leadership has extended beyond the business world. He was the 1989 recipient of the prestigious George F. Kennan Award for his outstanding contribution to improving U.S.-Soviet relations.
In 1986, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund honored him with the first Equal Justice Award. The Fund recognized his leadership in public affairs and social responsibility, noting: "By demonstrating throughout his career a genuine openness of mind, a restless searching for fresh opportunity and a spaciousness of vision often all too rare in the higher reaches of corporate life, Don Kendall has provided for future generations a model of enlightened, progressive and authentic patriotism—blended with true citizenship of the world and a lifelong, unshakable dedication to the cause of equal justice."
Kendall's dedication also extends to the arts. He is perhaps most recognized for the outstanding collection of 20th century outdoor sculpture in the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens that surround the corporation's headquarters in Purchase, New York. The gardens feature works by major artists such as Rodin, Calder and Moore and is considered the foremost corporate sculpture gardens in the world.
A native of Sequim, Washington, Kendall attended Western Kentucky State College. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from Stetson University, DeLand, Florida; an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts and a Doctor of Laws from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Kendall also received Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from: Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York; Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York; the State University of New York (SUNY), Purchase and Long Island University, Brookville, New York.
Kendall was born on March 16, 1921 in Sequim, Washington. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Bim, his four children and ten grandchildren.