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Louis Gerstner III, Son of Celebrated IBM Chairman, Dies at 41

Louis V. Gerstner III, the son of the executive credited with saving International Business Machines Corp., has died. He was 41.

He died on Aug. 14 after choking while dining in a restaurant, according to a death notice in the New York Times. Grace Brugess, a spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, said yesterday in a telephone interview that he died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and that autopsy results require “further testing and investigation.” His family declined to elaborate on the death notice.

A 1996 graduate of Princeton University, and a father of two, Gerstner was president of the Gerstner Family Foundation, which reported $94 million in assets in 2011. Among its biggest pledges and grants: $2 million to the Partnership for Inner-City Education, which pays tuition for low-income students to attend Catholic schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, and $4.6 million to support a study of the genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The younger Gerstner “dedicated much of his adult life to providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children,” the death notice said.

He was the older of two children of Louis V. Gerstner Jr., whose nine-year tenure as IBM chairman and CEO is often used as a case study in corporate leadership.

IBM’s Turnaround

When he took over the Armonk, New York-based company in 1993, IBM was facing bankruptcy or breakup. Gerstner led a turnaround in management, marketing and compensation that boosted IBM’s market value from $29 billion to about $168 billion in 2002 and, as he wrote in his 2002 memoir, turned the company “into a market-driven rather than an internally focused, process-driven enterprise.”

The elder Gerstner previously led RJR Nabisco Inc. and American Express Co. He retired in 2008 as chairman of Carlyle Group LP, the world’s second-largest manager of alternative assets such as private equity and real estate. He remains a senior adviser at the Washington-based firm.

Louis Vincent Gerstner III was a graduate of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, Princeton and Columbia Business School, where he received a master’s in business administration in 2000.

He worked as an analyst for the private-equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. and, according to a 2000 PR Newswire release, was joining the management team of a fund called J Net Ventures I, which was to make Internet-related investments for J Net Enterprises Inc.

Active Philanthropist

The New York Post reported in 1999 that Gerstner was among “a new generation of philanthropists” that had formed a group called the Young Lions to raise funds for the New York Public Library.

He married Mary Gervaise Lawhorne, another Princeton graduate, in 1999, in a ceremony on St. Simons Island, off the Georgia coast, according to a wedding announcement in the New York Times.

The death notice says his children, Grace and Olivia, are among his survivors, along with his sister, Elizabeth Gerstner, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and his parents, Louis Jr. and the former Elizabeth Robins Link.

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