The family of Donald M. Kendall announced his passing. The former PepsiCo executive passed away Sept. 19 at the age of 99 of natural causes.

Kendall served as chief executive officer of Pepsi-Cola and PepsiCo for 23 years, assuming the position in 1963. On PepsiCo’s website, the food and beverage corporation highlights Kendall as a master deal-maker who upon his appointment as top executive he made immediate changes to the management team to improve relationships with Pepsi bottlers. Less than two years later, Kendall led the merger with Frito-Lay on the notion that most consumer eat chips and enjoy beverages at the same time, resulting in the company mantra of “Better Together.”

The following is a statement released by the family:

“Donald M. Kendall passed away peacefully last night, September 19.  He was 99 years old and died of natural causes, at home with his wife of 55 years and surrounded by the large and thriving family he shepherded. Our family is heartbroken, but also incredibly proud of the truly epic life he led. From the dairy farm in Washington where he was born and grew up, he went on to serve his country with distinction as a Naval aviator in World War II and then joined the Pepsi Cola Company as a management trainee and route salesman. The fact that he climbed to the top and grew PepsiCo into the global enterprise it is today is a fitting testament to his legendary work ethic, drive, optimism, competitive spirit and love of people. He believed passionately in the ability of commerce and relationships to bridge cultures and heal divides. Bringing Pepsi to the Soviet Union as the first Western consumer product sold there, and following up with the historic openings of China, India, Iran and many other countries to trade is probably his proudest legacy. ‘Not bad for a farm boy,’ as Dad used to say. We say, well done Big D! Our family is planning to hold a small funeral in the coming days and a memorial service to celebrate his life after the pandemic is under control. We ask that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Carroll C. Kendall Boys & Girls Club in Sequim, Washington, which he built in honor of his father."

Ramon Laguarta, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, also released a statement about Kendall’s passing:

“All of us at PepsiCo are devastated by the passing of Don Kendall. Don was the architect of the PepsiCo family. He was relentless about growing our business, a fearless leader, and the ultimate salesman. He believed in business as a way to build bridges between cultures, laying the foundation of our commitment to Winning with Purpose and defining the values that we refer to today as The PepsiCo Way. In many ways, he was the man who made PepsiCo, PepsiCo. Don was an inspiration to all of us leaders at PepsiCo, from his endless passion to live and make a difference in the world; to his creativity and entrepreneurship; his belief in building bridges between cultures through business; his capacity to connect people and build relationships; his respect for diversity; and his support for the less privileged. My wife, Maria, and I had the privilege of getting to know Don and his wife, Bim, over the past years, sharing many moments together in their home, and we came to know another side of Don: the loving husband, father, and grandfather. The cheerful companion. A pillar of the community. And a tremendous friend and mentor who will be deeply missed. Don may have left us, but he leaves behind an extraordinary legacy. We will continue to celebrate his life, both through our appreciation of the work he carried out, and by doing what he did better than anyone: competing and winning in the market, while continuing to make the world a better place. On behalf of everyone who has ever worn PepsiCo blue, I send my deepest condolences to Bim, Don's four children, 10 grandchildren, and the entire Kendall family as they mourn the passing of this remarkable man."