A man who spent a fair amount of time in Benton Harbor between 1992 and 2011 as a member of the Board of Directors of Whirlpool Corporation and became a national figure has also become one of the most prominent figures to succumb to the coronavirus COVID-19 today.
Herman Cain, former Chairman & CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Whirlpool board member from 1992 to 2003 and then again from 2005 to 2011, and one time Presidential candidate, died today at the age of 74.
I reached out to Whirlpool Corporation for their thoughts on Mr. Cain’s passing, and they shared this statement: “Herman Cain was a member of Whirlpool Corporation’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2011. Mr. Cain cared deeply about our company and our people. He brought great perspective to our company. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Cain was an American business executive, syndicated columnist, and also a Tea Party activist, who attended President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma less than two weeks before he was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
He grew up in Georgia and graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and then graduated with a master’s degree in computer science at Purdue University, while also working full-time for the U.S. Department of the Navy. In 1977, he joined the Pillsbury Company where he later became Vice President. During the 1980s, Cain’s success as a business executive at Burger King prompted Pillsbury to appoint him as chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, in which capacity he served from 1986 to 1996.
Cain was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Omaha Branch from 1989 to 1991. He was deputy chairman, from 1992 to 1994, and then chairman until 1996, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In 1995, he was appointed to the Kemp Commission, and in 1996, he served as a senior economic adviser to Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. From 1996 to 1999, Cain served as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
In May of 2011, Cain announced his 2012 presidential candidacy, which forced him to step away from the Whirlpool board, and by the fall, his proposed 9–9–9 tax plan and debating performances had made him a serious contender for the Republican nomination. In November, however, his campaign faced allegations of sexual misconduct—all denied by Cain—and he announced its suspension on December 3rd. He remained involved in politics afterwards. He had also made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 2004, which brought about his first departure from the Whirlpool board in 2003. After that failed attempt he was back with the appliance maker in 2005 for a final six year run before retiring from the board.
Cain died today, July 30, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19.