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Peter Wetherill Stroh

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Peter Wetherill Stroh

Birth
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Death
17 Sep 2002 (aged 74)
Grosse Pointe Farms, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Burial
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA Add to Map
Memorial ID
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Peter Stroh, former chief executive of the Stroh Brewery Co., died of brain cancer on September 17th at his home in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

Mr. Stroh is remembered as a gracious elder statesman in the brewing industry. "Peter Stroh was truly a gentlemen's gentleman," said Mac Brighton, chairman and COO of Business Journals, Inc., publisher of Modern Brewery Age. "He was admired and respected by everyone in the brewing industry, friends and competitors alike."

Stroh also made his mark as a tireless civic booster for the city of Detroit. "He never gave up on the city," former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer told the Detroit Free Press after learning that Stroh had died. "He was a 'laboring oar.'"

Stroh was the sixth family member to head the Stroh Brewery Co., which his great-grandfather, Bernhard Stroh, founded in 1850 on Detroit's east side. Before coming to the United States, the Strohs had been brewers in Rhineland Palatinate since 1755.

Under Peter Stroh's leadership in the 1980s, the company made a play to become a national brewer, but found itself outmatched by deep-pocketed competitors. Peter Stroh stepped down as chairman in 1997, and the Stroh Brewery Co. was out of the beer business by 1999.

Peter Stroh talked very little to the press, but friends said that the decline of the company's position in the brewing industry was very painful to him.

Despite the Stroh Brewery Co.'s misfortunes, Stroh is remembered with respect in Detroit due to his remarkable civic commitment. Family members have reported that the 1967 Detroit riots forever changed his out- look on personal and corporate responsibility. Mr. Stroh had stood on the roof of the brewery and watched fires consume the city. "As a result of that sad experience, I began to wonder about the company's and the family's historic role in our community," Stroh wrote in a family newsletter in 1997. "And quickly discovered that there really hadn't been one for either."

Stroh became active in the Urban League and the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He also worked with former Mayor Coleman Young on a variety of projects. "He and the mayor had a very strong, personal friendship," said Bob Berg, Young's longtime aide.

The Stroh clan used personal and corporate money to develop Stroh River Place, the renovation of the old Parke-Davis pharmaceutical complex at the foot of Jos. Campau.

The UAW-GM International Training Center is located on former Stroh land nearby. Stroh also was active with the Detroit Medical Center, the Detroit Symphony, the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts? He served on the boards of more than half a dozen local organizations, including Detroit Renaissance, Detroit Economic GrowthCorp., and New Detroit Incorporated.

Stroh also helped finance projects in genetic engineering and molecular biology, including helping a British company produce recombinant human serum albumin from brewer's yeast.

Son of Gari and Suzanne Stroh. He graduated from Princeton in 1951 with a degree in international affairs, and planned a career with the Central Intelligence Agency. But in 1952 a runaway truck in Washington, D.C., crushed him against a building and put an end to his nascent career in espionage. He was hospitalized for a year.

As a college student, Stroh had worked in the brewery as a janitor. After recovering from his accident, he spent time in the brewing and laboratory departments and quickly became skilled at the technical side of brewing.

He was elected to the Stroh board in 1955 and became director of operations in 1966. Named president of Stroh's in 1968, Stroh teamed with his uncle, John Stroh, who was chairman and chief executive officer.

Stroh guided the family company from its regional roots to become a quasi-national brewery. Stroh's shipped 3 million barrels in 1970 and 24 million in 1985.

Stroh bought F. & M Schaefer in 1980, and in 1982 purchased the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. At that time, Stroh was the number three brewer behind Anheuser-Busch and Miller.

But the acquisitions bred over-capacity, and Stroh chose to close its flagship brewery in downtown Detroit in 1985. "This was one of the most difficult decisions we ever made," Stroh told the Detroit Free Press at the time.

The battle for market share against the top two brewers gradually drained the company's coffers, although Stroh tried various imaginative strategies to survive. In 1989, Stroh and Coors came close to a deal in which the Golden, CO-based Coors would purchase Stroh. Unfortunately, the deal came unwound, and Stroh was forced to go it alone. In the mid-1990s, Stroh bought the troubled G. Heileman Brewing Co. The deal brought the company a handful of strong brands, but also more capacity than it could ever use.

Over the years, the Stroh brands were consistently rated tops among the major brands, but the brewery could never muster the marketing muscle to compete with A-B and Miller. In 1999, the company announced it would exit the brewing business, and it sold its breweries and brands to the Miller and Pabst Brewing Companies.

Outside his work in the beer business and the city of Detroit, Stroh made his mark as an outdoorsman and conservationist. He served as a member of the National Audubon Society board, did fund-raising for Ducks Unlimited, was a trustee for Conservation International, which specializes in Latin American issues, and sat on the board of actor Robert Redford's Institute for Resource Management, which tries to settle environmental disputes without lawyers. He traveled the world, hunting birds and fishing.

"To have a sense of our outdoor past--our biological past--is as important as a sense of our historical and cultural past, and sometimes a lot more fun. I say that even as a former board member of the Detroit Institute of Arts and a current board member for the Guggenheim," he once told the Detroit Free Press. "Wading through a cypress swamp is every bit as much fun as treading through the galleries."

Stroh is survived by his wife, Nicole; two sons, Pierre and Frederic; one grandchild, and a brother, Eric.
Peter Stroh, former chief executive of the Stroh Brewery Co., died of brain cancer on September 17th at his home in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

Mr. Stroh is remembered as a gracious elder statesman in the brewing industry. "Peter Stroh was truly a gentlemen's gentleman," said Mac Brighton, chairman and COO of Business Journals, Inc., publisher of Modern Brewery Age. "He was admired and respected by everyone in the brewing industry, friends and competitors alike."

Stroh also made his mark as a tireless civic booster for the city of Detroit. "He never gave up on the city," former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer told the Detroit Free Press after learning that Stroh had died. "He was a 'laboring oar.'"

Stroh was the sixth family member to head the Stroh Brewery Co., which his great-grandfather, Bernhard Stroh, founded in 1850 on Detroit's east side. Before coming to the United States, the Strohs had been brewers in Rhineland Palatinate since 1755.

Under Peter Stroh's leadership in the 1980s, the company made a play to become a national brewer, but found itself outmatched by deep-pocketed competitors. Peter Stroh stepped down as chairman in 1997, and the Stroh Brewery Co. was out of the beer business by 1999.

Peter Stroh talked very little to the press, but friends said that the decline of the company's position in the brewing industry was very painful to him.

Despite the Stroh Brewery Co.'s misfortunes, Stroh is remembered with respect in Detroit due to his remarkable civic commitment. Family members have reported that the 1967 Detroit riots forever changed his out- look on personal and corporate responsibility. Mr. Stroh had stood on the roof of the brewery and watched fires consume the city. "As a result of that sad experience, I began to wonder about the company's and the family's historic role in our community," Stroh wrote in a family newsletter in 1997. "And quickly discovered that there really hadn't been one for either."

Stroh became active in the Urban League and the Detroit branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He also worked with former Mayor Coleman Young on a variety of projects. "He and the mayor had a very strong, personal friendship," said Bob Berg, Young's longtime aide.

The Stroh clan used personal and corporate money to develop Stroh River Place, the renovation of the old Parke-Davis pharmaceutical complex at the foot of Jos. Campau.

The UAW-GM International Training Center is located on former Stroh land nearby. Stroh also was active with the Detroit Medical Center, the Detroit Symphony, the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts? He served on the boards of more than half a dozen local organizations, including Detroit Renaissance, Detroit Economic GrowthCorp., and New Detroit Incorporated.

Stroh also helped finance projects in genetic engineering and molecular biology, including helping a British company produce recombinant human serum albumin from brewer's yeast.

Son of Gari and Suzanne Stroh. He graduated from Princeton in 1951 with a degree in international affairs, and planned a career with the Central Intelligence Agency. But in 1952 a runaway truck in Washington, D.C., crushed him against a building and put an end to his nascent career in espionage. He was hospitalized for a year.

As a college student, Stroh had worked in the brewery as a janitor. After recovering from his accident, he spent time in the brewing and laboratory departments and quickly became skilled at the technical side of brewing.

He was elected to the Stroh board in 1955 and became director of operations in 1966. Named president of Stroh's in 1968, Stroh teamed with his uncle, John Stroh, who was chairman and chief executive officer.

Stroh guided the family company from its regional roots to become a quasi-national brewery. Stroh's shipped 3 million barrels in 1970 and 24 million in 1985.

Stroh bought F. & M Schaefer in 1980, and in 1982 purchased the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. At that time, Stroh was the number three brewer behind Anheuser-Busch and Miller.

But the acquisitions bred over-capacity, and Stroh chose to close its flagship brewery in downtown Detroit in 1985. "This was one of the most difficult decisions we ever made," Stroh told the Detroit Free Press at the time.

The battle for market share against the top two brewers gradually drained the company's coffers, although Stroh tried various imaginative strategies to survive. In 1989, Stroh and Coors came close to a deal in which the Golden, CO-based Coors would purchase Stroh. Unfortunately, the deal came unwound, and Stroh was forced to go it alone. In the mid-1990s, Stroh bought the troubled G. Heileman Brewing Co. The deal brought the company a handful of strong brands, but also more capacity than it could ever use.

Over the years, the Stroh brands were consistently rated tops among the major brands, but the brewery could never muster the marketing muscle to compete with A-B and Miller. In 1999, the company announced it would exit the brewing business, and it sold its breweries and brands to the Miller and Pabst Brewing Companies.

Outside his work in the beer business and the city of Detroit, Stroh made his mark as an outdoorsman and conservationist. He served as a member of the National Audubon Society board, did fund-raising for Ducks Unlimited, was a trustee for Conservation International, which specializes in Latin American issues, and sat on the board of actor Robert Redford's Institute for Resource Management, which tries to settle environmental disputes without lawyers. He traveled the world, hunting birds and fishing.

"To have a sense of our outdoor past--our biological past--is as important as a sense of our historical and cultural past, and sometimes a lot more fun. I say that even as a former board member of the Detroit Institute of Arts and a current board member for the Guggenheim," he once told the Detroit Free Press. "Wading through a cypress swamp is every bit as much fun as treading through the galleries."

Stroh is survived by his wife, Nicole; two sons, Pierre and Frederic; one grandchild, and a brother, Eric.


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