In Memoriam

John Whitehead, 1922-2015

John Whitehead, one of the founders of the Asia Business Council, passed away February 7th, 2015.

John believed strongly in the future of Asia and saw the need for an Asia-led group made up of the region's leading business people. It is in large part due to John's foresight and his support that the Council has developed into a pre-eminent group of Asian business leaders.

John led an extraordinary life, taking part in campaigns in France, Iwo Jima and Okinawa shortly after he graduated from Haverford College. John went on to help build Goldman Sachs into a financial powerhouse while ensuring that the firm retained a core of ethical integrity.

After retiring from Goldman, John served President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz as Deputy Secretary of State. Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, he led the effort to rebuild Lower Manhattan. His was a life that blended business and public leadership.

Former Executive Director Ruth Shapiro remembers John's central role in starting what became the Asia Business Council:

"When I first asked John to help with the Asia Business Initiative, he gave me an assignment. When I completed that task, I went back to him and he gave me another, each time prompting a new set of alliances and commitments. After four iterations, he agreed to be on our first steering committee, but only with the knowledge that, cumulatively, he had helped me strengthen the foundation immeasurably. Without this help, the Initiative, which became the Council, could not have succeeded. John's mentorship was central in establishing a strong base, lining up critical support and developing a winning strategy. Working with John was an incredible opportunity, a great joy, and an experience for which I will always be grateful."

All of us at the Council recognize John's achievements, and the time and energy he gave to help build the Asia Business Council, and offer our condolences to his widow, the former Cynthia Matthews, and other family members.