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Former CBS Exec Wyman Dead at 73

1/12/2003 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Former CBS Chairman Thomas H. Wyman died Jan. 9, a little more than a month after having resigned from the Augusta National Country Club—home of the prestigious Masters golf tournament—over the club's refusal to admit women as members. He was critical of Masters rights holder CBS for not publicly encouraging the club to admit women.

The 73-year-old Wyman died from complications from an abdominal infection, according to his family, who indicated that he had recently had abdominal surgery in Boston. He lived in neighboring Cambridge, where he taught at Harvard and MIT.

After quitting the country club last month, Wyman gave an interview to The New York Times
in which he encouraged CBS to take a more assertive stand on the flap over admitting women to the club. "CBS could at least come out in favor of a commitment from Augusta National on the admission of women," he said. "They have a constituency that cares about this issue, and I was disappointed CBS didn't do more."

Wyman was named president of CBS in 1980 and, from the start of his tenure, was seen as the likely successor to CBS chairman and founder William Paley. But, as was the case with a handful of executives previously groomed by Paley for the top post, things didn't quite work out.

Wyman was named chairman of CBS in 1983. But the economics of TV were starting to change, and he was faced with slumping ratings and ad sales, which forced big layoffs at some divisions and the divestiture of others.

By 1985, Paley, still active in board affairs, had begun to lose confidence in Wyman. So had another major stockholder: Laurence Tisch, whose Loews Corp. had accumulated roughly 25% of the company.

Together, Paley and Tisch orchestrated Wyman's departure after Wyman proposed, in 1986, to sell CBS to the Coca-Cola Co. The board rejected the plan, and Wyman resigned. Tisch took over control of the company until selling it to Westinghouse in 1995.

Prior to joining CBS, Wyman served in senior-level executive posts at several of the nation's leading marketing companies, including Nestlé, Polaroid, Green Giant and Pillsbury, where he was vice chairman.

After leaving CBS, he taught at Yale for a couple of years and ran the Wall Street firm SG Warburg in the early 1990s. He was a graduate of Amherst College, which has seen a Wyman family graduate in every generation since the school was founded in 1821.

After retiring in the mid 1990s, Wyman remained active in the affairs of numerous philanthropic and educational organizations, including Amherst, Phillips Academy, the Ford Foundation, Lincoln Center, the Aspen Institute, the United Way of America, the United Negro College Fund, the Museum of Television and Radio, the Business Council and the Business Roundtable.

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