William R. Grant, co-founder and former Chairman of Galen died April 15 at home in Manhattan after a year’s illness from metastatic melanoma. He was 82.
He was a former President and Vice Chairman of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co., Inc. and retired from Galen at the end of 2006. Mr. Grant served as an active director of several public companies until his illness.
Born in Brooklyn in 1925, he was the only child of William Vincent Grant and Adelaide Marshall Grant. He graduated from Chaminade High School in 1942 and in 1994 was inducted into the Chaminade High School Alumni Hall of Fame. He interrupted his education in 1943 to enlist in the U.S. Navy and served as an officer on a destroyer in the Pacific. In 1946, he enrolled in Union College and graduated in 1949 with a degree in chemical engineering. A devoted supporter of his alma mater, he served on the Board of Trustees for 20 years and was named Trustee Emeritus in 1992.
In 1952, Mr. Grant joined Smith Barney where he rose from drug and chemical analyst to Head of Research by his early thirties and became President of Smith Barney & Co. in 1971. Mr. Grant became Vice Chairman of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. and was a frequent guest on “Wall Street Week.”
He is widely recognized as a leader in the development of professional institutional research. He participated in the financing of many healthcare companies, including G.D. Searle (Monsanto), A.H. Robins (American Home Products), Marion Laboratories (Aventis) and SmithKline Beecham (GlaxoSmithKline) serving as a Director of the company for twenty-four years.
Mr. Grant left Smith Barney in 1978 and spent a short time in Boston as Vice Chairman of Endowment Management and Research Company. In 1979, he returned to New York City to become President and eventually the Chairman of the Board of MacKay-Shields Financial Corporation, which grew to a $3 billion money management firm. In 1984, MacKay-Shields was acquired by New York Life Insurance Company, and Mr. Grant became Chairman of New York Life International Investments and a member of the Board of Directors of New York Life.
In 1990, Mr. Grant returned “to my first business love, financing small healthcare companies". With John Wilkerson and Bruce Wesson, former colleagues from Smith Barney, Mr. Grant co-founded Galen Associates. Among Galen’s successful investments have been MiniMed, Inc. and Ocular Sciences, Inc. Dr. Wilkerson stated that “Bill Grant was the consummate Partner. He set Galen’s culture and early direction. In 1990, he single-handedly convinced investors to place their funds and faith in our start-up operation. As we became successful, Bill made sure we stayed true to our founding principles: passion for the healthcare industry, responsibility to our investors and compassion for all those we touched”.
Mr. Grant has been a director of a dozen public companies including Allergan, Fluor Corporation, MiniMed, Inc., New York Life Insurance Company, Seagull Energy Corporation, SmithKline Beecham and Witco Corporation. Active directorships at the onset of his illness were Massey Energy, Advanced Medical Optics, Quest Diagnostics, Vasogen and Interaudi Bank, where he was Vice Chairman. He was also a long-time advisor to the GE Investment Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was a former Trustee of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Union College, Cold Spring Harbor Research Labs and The New York Botanical Garden.
Mr. Grant believed that financial assistance should be combined with corporal works of charity. For many years, he volunteered in a soup kitchen on Saturday mornings from which he derived great satisfaction. Mr. Grant was a member of the Order of Malta and a Trustee and former Vice Chairman of the Gregorian University Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Adele Grant, his daughters, Debbie Grant and Elise Lauinger, his son, Byron, and two grandchildren, Jeremy and Molly Hall Seeley.