People the business world lost in 2015

business world lost 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, we take a look at the business leaders we lost this year.

Melvin Gordon, 95, Tootsie Roll

Gordon took over as director of Tootsie Roll in 1952. He ran the family-controlled company with his wife, Ellen Gordon, to whom he was married for 65 years. After his death, Gordon was replaced as CEO by his 83-year-old widow. (Died January 20)

John Whitehead, 92, Goldman Sachs

Whitehead was instrumental in shaping the culture of Goldman Sachs and served as the group's co-chairman for eight years. Before joining Goldman Sachs in 1947, Whitehead served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and attended Harvard Business School. He retired in 1984, but continued to serve as chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. (Died February 7)

Donald Keough, 88, Coca-Cola

Keough served as the president and COO of Coca-Cola (CCE) from 1981 until he retired in 1993. While at Coca-Cola, Keough also served as the head of its food division and as the chairman of Columbia Pictures. Keough was also on the board of Notre Dame and in 2014 the university opened the Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs. (Died February 24)

Robert Benmosche, 70, AIG

Benmosche came out of retirement to head AIG (AIG) in 2009 -- after its federal bailout the year before. It was one of the most expensive bailouts of the financial crisis -- $152 billion in taxpayer money was spent to save the company. Although he was often criticized, Benmosche helped to turn AIG around and make it profitable. Earlier in his career, Benmosche served as the CEO of MetLife. (Died February 27)

robert benmosche
Robert Benmosche

Dan Fredinburg, 33, Google

Fredinburg served as privacy director of the Google X Team, which is responsible for innovative initiatives like driverless cars and Google Glass. Fredinburg was scaling Mt. Everest with two other Google employees when this year's massive earthquake in Nepal caused an avalanche. He was killed after succumbing to a head injury. Before his death, he had formed the Google Adventure Team, which mapped exotic locations for Google's Street View tool. (Died April 25)

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Dan Fredinburg

Dave Goldberg, 47, Survey Monkey

Goldberg was a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who served as CEO of SurveyMonkey and was married to Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg. He died suddenly after exercising on a family trip to Mexico. Prior to joining SurveyMonkey in 2009, Goldberg founded Launch Media, an online music startup that was acquired by Yahoo in 2001. Sandberg, who wrote the book "Lean In," called Goldberg "a true partner." (Died May 1)

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Dave Goldberg with his wife, Sheryl Sandberg

Rachel Jacobs, 39, ApprenNet

Jacobs was the CEO of ApprenNet, a small tech company in Philadelphia. Jacobs was one of eight people who were killed when an Amtrak train derailed on its way from Washington, D.C. to New York City. In 2007, Jacobs founded Detroit Nation, which sought to unite Detroit natives around the country and encourage them to contribute to the revitalization of their hometown. (Died May 12)

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Rachel Jacobs

Abid Gilani, 55, Wells Fargo

Gilani served as senior vice president of Wells Fargo's hospitality finance group. He died in the Amtrak derailment that killed ApprenNet CEO Rachel Jacobs. Before joining Wells Fargo (CBEAX), Gilani worked for Marriott for seven years. Gilani worked at Wells Fargo for about a year and had been at Marriott for the previous seven, according to LinkedIn. (Died May 12)

Ed Gilligan, 55, AmEx

Gilligan worked for American Express (AXP) for 35 years, starting as an intern in 1980 and becoming president in 2013. He died after becoming gravely ill on a New York-bound flight. (Died May 29)

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Ed Gilligan

Kirk Kerkorian, 98, MGM Resorts International

Kerkorian was the son of poor Armenian immigrants who went on to found MGM Resorts International (MGM). He was a multibillionaire who invested in the auto industry and owned a film studio, Las Vegas casinos and an airline. He was also a talented airman -- he flew dangerous missions from Canada to Britain during World War II. According to Forbes, he was worth about $4.2 billion a month before his death. (Died June 15)

Jimmy Lee, 62, JP Morgan

Lee served as a vice chairman at J.P. Morgan Chase. He died at the hospital after becoming short of breath while exercising on a treadmill at his home. At the time of his death, Lee was involved in a major deal with General Electric. Lee ran track and double-majored in economics and art history at Williams College. (Died June 17)

Ralph Roberts, 95, Comcast

Roberts founded the Philadelphia-based Comcast (CCV) in 1963 -- now the nation's single biggest cable provider. Roberts served in World War II, worked in advertising and ran a men's apparel company before starting Comcast. He was considered by many to be a pioneer of the cable television industry. (Died June 18)

James Howard, 29, Google

Howard, who headed Google's brand marketing in the UK, died after being hit by a car in France. He was attending the Cannes Lion advertising festival to accept a design award for Google Creative Lab's virtual tour of the famous Abbey Road Studios in London. Google called him "a loved and respected member of our team." (Died June 21)

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James Howard

Burt Shavitz, 80, Burt's Bees

Burt's Bees remembered its co-founder as "a wild-bearded and free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers," and "above all...an uncompromising individual of his own invention." Shavitz's journey from a roadside honey merchant to the namesake of a billion-dollar company started after picking up his eventual business partner as a hitchhiker in 1984. (Died July 5)

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Burt Shavitz

Satoru Iwata, 55, Nintendo

Iwata became Nintendo's president in 2002. His legacy at Nintendo includes the Wii and DS, and igniting interest from new demographics with games like Nintendogs and Brain Training. (Died July 11)

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Satoru Iwata

Josh Greenberg, 28, Grooveshark

After Greenberg was found dead in his home, police said there was "no evidence of foul play or suicide," and the cause of his death is still unknown. He started the music-sharing service Grooveshark with two of his classmates at the University of Florida in 2007, which grew to have more than 30 million users and netted Greenberg multiple entrepreneurial awards. Grooveshark shut its doors in April, however, after being hit by a $50 million fine for copyright violations. (Died July 19)

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Josh Greenberg

Michael Copeland, 55, Qualcomm

Copeland passed away after a plane he was piloting crashed into a jet in a collision that killed four others. He was a senior public relations manager at telecommunications giant Qualcomm (QCOM) and he wrote numerous speeches for the company's executives, including a bizarre and buzzworthy keynote at a 2013 tradeshow. (Died August 16)

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Michael Copeland

Leon Gorman, 80, L.L. Bean

Gorman kept company leadership in the Bean family bloodline when he took over as president in 1967 following the death of his grandfather and L.L. Bean founder. Gorman "led L.L.Bean from a $4.75 million catalog company to an over-one-billion-dollar multichannel enterprise," the company's website says. (Died September 3)

Fred DeLuca, 67, Subway

DeLuca wanted to be a medical doctor, but the sub sandwich shop he opened to help pay for his education turned into his life's work. He turned full-fledged businessman whose Subway restaurants, and later franchises, changed the landscape of fast food. (Died September 14)

Richard Rainwater, 71, Investor and fund manager

Rainwater grew the Bass' family oil fortune as its investment manager to vast sums. The Texan went on to launch multiple firms, becoming a self-made multi-billionaire. He launched a charity and spent millions searching for a cure for the rare brain disease that took his life. (Died September 27)

Michael Hammond, 53, Gateway

Hammond was a lead engineer and co-founder at Gateway, the personal computer company that peaked in 2002. After he left the company, Hammond opened a muscle car restoration company. He was a devout fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Bears, and his family asked his funeral attendees to don fan gear instead of black. (Died October 29)

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Michael Hammond

Doug Tompkins, 72, The North Face

Tompkins died after a kayaking accident in Patagonia. He created The North Face and E-Spirit, and with his second wife Kris launched a trust to fund conservation and environmental efforts. The trust said in a statement that Tompkins's death came "after 'cheating death' so many times on perilous climbing expeditions to some of the planet's most remote places." (Died December 8)

Lillian Vernon, 88, Lillian Vernon Corporation

Vernon founded her mail-order catalog company in 1951 as a young housewife. It was listed on the NYSE in 1987, becoming the first company founded by a woman to do so. She sold the company for $60 million in 2003. Born Lilli Menasche, Vernon's family settled in New York City after fleeing Nazi Germany. (Died December 14)

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Lillian Vernon

Ian Murdock, 42, Salesforce

Murdock was a software pioneer who founded the Debian Linux open-source operating system. He served as an executive at Sun Microsystems, Salesforce (CRM) and most recently software company Docker. "Ian's devotion to the right thing guided his work, both in Debian and in the subsequent years, always working towards the best possible future," said Debian leaders Ana Guerrero Lopez, Donald Norwood and Paul Tagliamonte, in a blog post. (Died December 28)

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Ian Murdock

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