Raymond S. Troubh ’50, H’03 died on August 24, 2020 in New York.
(President Clayton Rose sent the following message to the Bowdoin community on August 27, 2020)
To faculty and staff,
I write with the sad news that Overseer Emeritus Ray Troubh, of the Class of 1950, died in New York on Monday, August 24, 2020. Ray’s financial acumen and capacity to lead made him a legend in corporate America, and he served Bowdoin in many capacities, including as a member of the governing boards.
Raymond Stanley Troubh was born on May 3, 1926, in Portland, Maine, to a family of limited means but limitless ambition. For much of his extraordinary career, Ray was described as a financial consultant. However, those two words are inadequate to describe a career as far-reaching and significant as Ray’s. He served on over thirty corporate boards over his long career, perhaps most famously when he was brought on to the board of Enron in December 2001 to investigate corporate misconduct after the company collapsed. Ray was described as supplying an “infusion of integrity” to the much-troubled company. In 2002, Director’s Alert described him as “lending a steady, cool, and honest hand to boardrooms across corporate America.”
He graduated from Portland High School in 1944, where he played football, was in the French Club and the Latin Forum, and served on the Senior Executive Board. In his youth, he was already known for his work ethic, delivering newspapers and working for two years before arriving at Bowdoin.
Ray came to Bowdoin on a scholarship and quickly earned a reputation as a top student. He joined Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, wrote for The Bowdoin Orient, was a member of the Political Forum, and was president of the student council. A government major, he was a spokesman for the “Bowdoin Plan,” a program that enabled international students to attend Bowdoin without tuition, with fraternities covering the costs of room and board. He graduated cum laude in 1949 as a member of the Class of 1950.
He went from Bowdoin to Yale, finishing his law degree in 1952 and clerking first for Chief Judge Thomas W. Swan in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and then for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Harold Hitz Burton, of the Bowdoin Class of 1909. When Justice Burton died in 1965, Ray spoke at his memorial service. He spent four years as a law associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and then joined The Lazard Fund, where he was treasurer and secretary until 1961. He became an associate at the investment house of Lazard Freres & Co. and was named a partner there in 1968.
In 1974, Ray founded his own company, Troubh & Co., a financial consulting firm. He was legendary for his independence, working alone in a two-room suite at Rockefeller Center and answering his own phone while serving as director to more than a half dozen corporations. He served on the American Stock Exchange Board of Governors from 1977 to 1985.
Ray was described by The Boston Globe in 1984 as “a battle-scarred veteran of the merger and acquisition wars of the past twenty years” who typically emerged the victor in fighting off hostile takeover bids. In one such case, he was successful in blocking John DeLorean from acquiring the car rental company Avis. In 1986 Ray joined Salomon Brothers, Inc., as an advisor in its merger and acquisitions department.
At the height of his role as a director, he served on seventeen corporate boards at one time. Some expressed concern that he must be spread too thin, but for Ray it never seemed to be too much. There was always something to be gained. “You learn from every experience of being a board member,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2002. He made time for fun—tennis was a hobby—but Ray was sought after professionally, and for him there was clearly great pleasure in his work. Over the years, he was on the board of such varied companies as Alaska Interstate Co., Becton, Dickinson and Co., Pabst Brewing Company, Warner Communications, Inc. (and then Time Warner), ENSTAR Corp., the Wendy’s Company, and Westbridge Capital Corp. He also served on the boards of the Legal Aid Society and the Legal Action Center.
With all these commitments, Ray always found time to give back to Bowdoin, starting early in his career, when he served as the vice president of the Bowdoin Club of New York. He worked on the Capital Funds Campaign and was elected to the Alumni Council in 1968, serving on many of its committees. Bowdoin was the beneficiary of Ray’s wise counsel as a member of the board of overseers from 1978 to 1990. In 1988, he and his wife, Jean, established the Jean L. and Raymond Troubh Scholarship Fund at the College. In 2003, Ray received the honorary degree of doctor of laws from his grateful alma mater. That same year, he was named Director of the Year by the National Association of Corporate Directors and praised for his leadership under the intense public scrutiny in the aftermath of the Enron debacle.
Ray is survived by Jean L. Troubh, his wife of forty-nine years; children John (Louisa) Troubh and Amy Troubh, Steven Polikoff ’88, Beth (Peter) Doyle and Lee (Paul) Belsky; fourteen grandchildren, including Linzee Troubh ’09, Peter M. Troubh ’12; Chloe J. Polikoff ’17, and Natasha Belsky ’19; and a sister, Charlotte R. Troubh of Cambridge, MA.
Memorial donations may be made to Raymond S. Troubh Scholarship Fund, Bowdoin College, 255 Maine St., Brunswick, ME 04011. We will pass along information about a memorial service when it is available.
We join with Jean and the family in celebrating Ray’s life and spirit, his integrity, and his extraordinary record of service to the College and to the world of business. We are grateful for the ways in which Ray touched our lives as individuals, as a college community, and as a nation.