Caleb Alan MacDonald, 87, of Greenwich, Connecticut died peacefully, and surrounded by family, on April 29, 2021. Known to most as Alan, he lived a life borne of curiosity and momentum. He was a great storyteller, who had remarkable conviction and grit.
Alan was born in Norwalk, Ohio, a community for which he always held great affection, and where his dedication to the food industry began with his first job picking strawberries for 10 cents a container. He graduated from The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, leading to a wonderful and fulfilling career in the hospitality and food industries. There he met many of his nearest and dearest life-long friends through his program, and as a brother of Delta Chi Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon – which he remained a supporter all his life.
Alan began his professional career in 1955 at the Stouffer's Restaurant Company doing everything from washing dishes, taking out the trash, and ensuring that every customer got the very best of service. Having done every job gave him an appreciation for the honor and dignity of every role – an appreciation he carried to every job that he had.
Anyone who talked business with Alan heard him recount how early experiences are rich learnings for the future. Even The New York Times quoted Alan at the height of his career, ''When you produce a meal, the full business cycle takes place. Raw materials are bought, converted, and served to customers. Cash is collected and with the proceeds, raw materials are bought again. All the activities take place in a tight time frame and the skills involved in the process are the same as those in the larger business world – buying, selling, marketing, production, and public relations. Restaurant management was a training ground for me for what I am doing now.''
Alan’s energy and passion for delighting customers were infectious. He epitomized what one would call a gentleman. Sincere, well-spoken, and a wonderful listener, he rose through the ranks at Stouffer’s. He lived by a mantra of decisiveness and always made sure to receive counsel from employees who were closest to the customers and products. He later served in various managerial and executive positions at Stouffer Foods and the Stouffer Corporation, culminating in his role as President of the Stouffer’s Frozen Food Division, where he directed the conceptualization, development, and implementation of Stouffer’s groundbreaking Lean Cuisine.
Nestle acquired Stouffer’s in 1972 and promoted Alan to President and CEO of Nestle Foods Corporation in 1982. That promotion took him to Greenwich, CT, a community that he cherished for nearly 40 years. Whether he was negotiating billion-dollar deals in the boardroom or walking the plant line with the people he so valued, Alan got his energy from debating ideas and uncovering the very best of solutions. Continuing his legacy as an innovator, Alan was credited with bringing white chocolate to the U.S market and reinvigorating Nestle’s existing strong North American market share in food products.
Over the course of his career, Alan was the Chairman and CEO of Lincoln Snacks,
served as the Chairman of the American Frozen Food Institute, and was on the Board of Directors at Lord Abbett & Company, Fountainhead Water Company, among others.
Alan loved the game of golf and practiced it regularly for his entire adult life. He belonged to The Scottish Golfing Society and annually traveled to Scotland – home of the game – for more than 25 years. He was known by his golfing pals as “The Radish” due to his ruddy complexion and snow-white hair.
Alan will be remembered for his love of life and family, his generosity, and his strength of character. He always made a point to talk to every person in the room and truly touched everyone he met. He will be missed dearly.
He’s survived by his brother Julian F. MacDonald (Allen) and his sister Helen MacDonald Whitehouse. He is also survived by his children Mark Alan MacDonald (Maril), Diane MacDonald Mackenzie (Don) and Mallory MacDonald Molenkamp (Gregory); his four grandchildren, Morgan MacDonald Manion (Thomas) and Killian Grace MacDonald, Jessica Laylin Tranter (Connor), Winston Alan Molenkamp, his great grandson Mac Miller Manion, former spouses Marilyn Miller MacDonald and Barbara Heinen MacDonald, and many cherished extended family members.