Gerard (William) Louis-Dreyfus dies at 84

by Eric Schroeder
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William Louis-Dreyfus
Gerard (William) Louis-Dreyfus, former chairman of Louis Dreyfus Co., died Sept. 16 at 84.
Gloria Baker Photography

BEDFORD, N.Y. — Gerard (William) Louis-Dreyfus, former chairman of Louis Dreyfus Co., died Sept. 16. He was 84 years old.

Born in Paris in 1932, Gerard Louis-Dreyfus was the great grandson of Leopold Louis-Dreyfus, founder of Louis Dreyfus Group. Gerard Louis-Dreyfus took over as chairman of the company in 1969 after having spent several years at a New York law firm. He broadened the company’s role from grain trader to diversified trading house. According to the company’s history, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus took trading activities in a different direction to capitalize on arbitrage opportunities in a variety of commodity markets, including government bonds, rice, cotton and natural gas. During the 1970s and 1980s, he led the company’s move to extend its direct involvement in agricultural activities to cotton, sugar, citrus and coffee.

Throughout the 1990s, Louis-Dreyfus continued to expand its origination and marketing activities, and the company added citrus and oilseeds processing to its portfolio.

Diversification efforts, a hallmark of the early Louis-Dreyfus Co., returned under the leadership of Mr. Louis-Dreyfus. In 1992, the company opened the General Lagos soybean crushing plant and port in Argentina, a facility that became one of the largest and most efficient plants in the world. And in 1998 the company began construction of a network of 10 grain elevators across the Canadian prairies.

Today, Louis Dreyfus Co. is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, originating, processing and transporting approximately 81 million tons of commodities annually. The company’s net sales totaled $55.7 billion in 2015.

In addition to his role with Louis-Dreyfus, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was an avid art collector and also served as chairman of the Poetry Society of America for 10 years.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis B. Louis-Dreyfus, and three daughters: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Phoebe Emilie Dominique Louis-Dreyfus Eavis (Peter) and Emma Louis-Dreyfus.
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