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Robert Mercer, former CEO of Goodyear Tire, dies at 96

Robert Mercer, who served as CEO of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and fought a takeover of the Akron-based firm in the 1980s, has died.

Mercer was 96 years old on Friday when he died, according to his son, Robert G. Mercer. He led the company from 1983 to 1989 and beat back an attempt by a financier to purchase the company to break it up.

Goodyear was the nation’s 34th largest company in 1986 when Sir James Goldsmith, who held more than 10% of the corporation’s stock, tried to take it over, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Mercer told the Beacon Journal, whose reporters won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the attempted takeover, that Goldsmith couldn’t find the Goodyear stock certificates he owned when negotiations neared a close.

Goodyear ended up buying back the shares that Goldsmith owned in return for his dropping the purchasing offer.

Mercer, who was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, joined Goodyear in 1947 as a sales trainee and worked at the company for 42 years.

In his spare time he enjoyed deep-sea fishing off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and owned a boat named the “Double Eagle,” after Goodyear’s premium radial tire. Mercer served in the Navy in World War II.

He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Mary, and five children: Robert G., of Santa Monica, California; Maryann John, of Richmond, Virginia; Donald, of Wichita, Kansas; John, of Akron, Ohio, and Kathleen Bond, of Shaker Heights, Ohio. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

President Trump recently urged supporters to boycott Goodyear, which has been a major employer in Akron for decades, because he wrongly said the company had banned employees from wearing the signature, red, “Make American Great Again,” caps of his campaign.

But the company didn’t announce such a specific ban, only that it asks employees to refrain from workplace expressions involving political campaigns and “forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.”

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This story has been corrected to add Kathleen Bond as one of Mercer’s five children.