INDIAN WELLS, CALIF. — Cargill MacMillan Jr., a former executive of Cargill and a descendant of the company’s founder, died at the home Nov. 14 following an extended illness. He was 84.
The great grandson of Cargill founder W.W. Cargill, Mr. MacMillan was the son of Cargill MacMillan (a past president of Cargill) and Pauline Whitney MacMillan.
A native of Minneapolis, Mr. MacMillan served in the Air Force after graduating from high school. In 1950 he graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Beginning as a trainee, Mr. MacMillan spent 38 years at Cargill and held positions in Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; New York; and Minneapolis.
His work included oversight of the design and construction of Cargill’s office center in Minnetonka, Minn., where more than 1,850 Cargill associates work. He was a member of the Cargill board from 1963 to 1996, a period of monumental change and growth at the company.
Mr. MacMillan is credited, together with four other young family members of his generation, with helping create during the 1960s a culture that paved the way for non-family members to rise to the highest levels of executive leadership at Cargill.
In the 1998 book “Cargill, Going Global,” Wayne G. Broehl, Jr., detailed the deliberate manner in which Mr. MacMillan and his generational peers adopted a philosophy of “best management to the top” for Cargill. This approach marked a reversal from the previous generation’s “visceral feeling” that Cargill was and should remain a family business, Mr. Broehl wrote.
The young men’s decision was precipitated by the sudden departure of key members of the previous generation in a three year-period ending in 1960 —Austen Cargill and John MacMillan Jr., who died, and Cargill MacMillan Sr., who suffered a debilitating stroke.
The history cites a letter to one of the five young men from family confidant and Cargill attorney Sumner “Ted” Young, stating, “I think the smartest thing you boys ever did was to refrain from taking top management positions in the Cargill organization when C. Mac. became incapacitated, and when your father died. That served notice to the world that these top positions were not preempted for family occupancy; that the family was not going to allow itself to take positions in the hierarchy for which it was not fully trained.”
Mr. MacMillan served on the boards of numerous civic organizations, including Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, Twin Cities Public Television, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Macalester College, Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, and United Way of the Minneapolis Area.
Mr. MacMillan is survived by his wife, Donna, their six children, 24 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
He is survived by his brother, Whitney, the retired c.e.o. of Cargill, and a sister, Pauline.
A service celebrating Mr. MacMillan’s life will be held Saturday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at Wayzata Community Church, 125 Wayzata Boulevard E., Wayzata, Minn.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN. 55404.