The foundation remembers the life and contributions of William E. LaMothe, a former trustee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and former CEO of the Kellogg Company, who passed away on Sept. 21, 2022, at his home in Ave Maria, Florida. Featured below is the announcement in the foundation’s 2000 annual report honoring his total of 50 years of service and leadership between the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kellogg Company.
When William E. LaMothe joined the Kellogg Company in 1950, Harry S. Truman was president and W.K. Kellogg still lived on Gull Lake near Battle Creek, Michigan. By the time Mr. LaMothe retired as a Kellogg Foundation trustee in December 2000, he had spent more total years with the Company and Foundation than even W.K. Kellogg.
Mr. LaMothe’s five decades of service spanned an era of unprecedented economic growth and social change. Yet more than longevity, the hallmark of his career has been his visionary leadership. In that respect, he has upheld the best traditions of our founder.
Like W.K. Kellogg, W.E. LaMothe believed the Kellogg Company had a responsibility to produce a good product, serve as a caring employer, and provide shareholders with competitive profits. The Kellogg Foundation Trust benefited from those profits by receiving a third of the Company’s shareholder returns which were then used for charitable purposes.
And as Mr. LaMothe explained in a recent interview, his company experience helped him understand W.K. Kellogg’s philanthropic desire “to help people help themselves.”
“Outright charity can always be of help in an emergency, but if continued too long, it makes a person dependent on that charity,” Mr. LaMothe said. “Mr. Kellogg wanted people to be independent, to be responsible for themselves and their families, and to be accountable for their actions. His main focus for accomplishing these objectives was through education and training. I believe this is still a most worthwhile goal of philanthropy.”
Much like the Foundation he served so well, Mr. LaMothe has been personally committed to affordable health care, quality education, economic development, and regional cooperation. As a volunteer, he has devoted considerable time and energy to these causes.
Additionally, Mr. LaMothe was a co-trustee of the Kellogg Foundation Trust, serving from 1992 to 1997. His knowledge of finance, combined with his insightful decision-making, contributed greatly to the Trust’s steady performance.
The English poet John Donne once said “No man is an island entire of himself, every man is a piece of the continent.” In a similar fashion, William E. LaMothe’s quiet contributions have touched thousands of lives, in ways the public may never realize. His work with the Kellogg Foundation clearly reflects his commitment to make local, national, and international communities the very best they can be.