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Mercy College Honors Donald M. Kendall For Making a Lasting Impact on the Lives of Students

Don Kendall et all

Mercy College mourns the passing of Donald M. Kendall, legendary business leader and co-founder of PepsiCo Inc., who will be remembered for his vast contributions to educational institutions, including Mercy College.

A distinguished veteran, acclaimed businessman and political affairs adviser to United States presidents and foreign dignitaries, the College is grateful to have called Kendall a friend and supporter, and proud to have presented him with an Honorary Degree in 1977 and a Founders’ Day Medal in 2009.

Kendall had a long-tenured career at PepsiCo, where he started on the bottling line in 1947 and retired as chief executive officer of Pepsi-Cola and PepsiCo, headquartered in Purchase, New York. After his retirement in 1986, Kendall remained a trusted adviser and served the company for 39 years.

According to a tribute to Kendall on PepsiCo’s website, he supported equal opportunity in the workplace and environmental sustainability efforts when these concepts “had yet to enter the business lexicon.”

Kendall was introduced to Mercy College by former Mercy College Trustee Donald J. Matthews, who now serves as Trustee Emeritus. “As a pro-active mentor to me, Kendall was generous with this time and made a lasting impact on the few students he was able to meet. He helped them determine their career aspirations and broadened their knowledge of life after graduation,” remembers Matthews. “He connected with Mercy students’ grit and passion to get ahead.”

Matthews, a dear friend to Kendall, was a pivotal force in the College’s board of trustees and ensured Mercy’s endowment is what it is today. By lending his professional expertise while serving on the College’s financial committee, Matthews helped secure a positive financial future for the College. 

Mercy College cherishes Kendall’s extraordinary legacy through Matthews and through students who benefitted from his wisdom. We are deeply saddened by this great loss and grateful for his contributions to the College.