NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., June 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Richard B. Sellars, who rose from junior salesman to Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer during a career that spanned 40 years at Johnson & Johnson, died today at the age of 94.
"Richard Sellars was an inspirational leader who filled all who met him with a deep sense of the company's responsibility to its customers, employees, community and shareholders," said William C. Weldon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson. "He will be missed."
A native of Worcester, Mass., Mr. Sellars was born on September 9, 1915. He attended American International College and Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn. While he did not earn a degree from either institution, they both later conferred on him honorary degrees, as did Rutgers University.
Sellars joined Johnson & Johnson's sales force in 1939 and began a rapid rise within two of the company's major affiliates, Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation and Ethicon, Inc. At Ortho, he became a vice president and director in 1948 and later was president of Ethicon. In 1950, Sellars was elected to Johnson & Johnson's Board of Directors and seven years later became Chairman of the Board of both Ortho and Ethicon.
Mr. Sellars became President of Johnson & Johnson International in 1970 and a year later was named Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Johnson & Johnson Board of Directors. In 1973, he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, a position he held until his retirement from that post in 1976. From then until his retirement in 1979, Sellars served as Chairman of Johnson & Johnson's Finance Committee, but directed most of his time to the New Brunswick Tomorrow project to revitalize the city of New Brunswick.
For 15 years, beginning in 1981, Mr. Sellars was a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, NJ, the nation's largest philanthropy organization dedicated to improving the health of Americans. His close working relationship with Robert Wood Johnson, the Foundation's benefactor, enabled Mr. Sellars to provide valuable input into the Foundation's policy and direction.
A boating and fishing enthusiast, Mr. Sellars had a succession of powerboats, each one a little larger, and he named all of them Dolphin. As friends who have accompanied him on long cruises can attest, he was a proficient helmsman. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, Royal Danish Yacht Club, Oyster Harbor Club, Jonathan's Landing Golf Club and Wianno Yacht Club.
A resident of New Jersey for more than 40 years, Mr. Sellars held numerous leadership positions. He served as Trustee of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Foundation and the Board of Overseers of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He also was on the Board of Directors of the Amerada Hess Corporation.
In recent years, Mr. Sellars and his wife of 70 years, the former Doris Sophia Johnson, of Springfield, Mass., have maintained residences in Osterville, Mass., on Cape Cod and in Jupiter, Fla.
Mr. Sellars also leaves two sons, Richard B. Jr., of Arnold, Md., and Peter C. of Sandwich, Mass., and two daughters, Christine S. Cotton, of Osterville, and Carolyn M. Sellars, of Williamsport, Pa., nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
SOURCE Johnson & Johnson