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Former Merrill Lynch CEO William Schreyer Dies

A man walks out of Merrill Lynch's headq

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PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) – William Schreyer, a former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch who led its transition from a stock brokerage to a diversified global investment bank, has died. He was 83.

Schreyer, who also gained recognition for donating millions of dollars to his alma mater, Penn State University, died Saturday at his home in Princeton, N.J. The school and Merrill Lynch announced his passing Sunday but did not say how he died.

Schreyer had a 45-year career at Merrill Lynch and led the firm from 1985-1993. He became a familiar face in TV commercials after the 1987 stock market crash, telling viewers: “At Merrill Lynch, we’re still bullish on America.”

Colleagues remembered Schreyer as a compassionate and decisive leader.

“He was a generous mentor to all of us who succeeded him,” said Daniel P. Tully, chairman emeritus of Merrill Lynch. “He loved Merrill Lynch, and inspired those around him with an irrepressible sense of humor and optimism. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

A 1948 Penn State graduate, Schreyer and his wife committed more than $58 million to the university. He also was a member of the school’s Board of Trustees from 1986-1998 and served as its president for three years. He also chaired the school’s first major fundraising campaign in 1984, which raised $352 million.

“No one has had greater ambition for Penn State and its students than Bill Schreyer,” said Steve Garban, president of the school’s board. “He and his wife have always believed that our institution could be a home to extraordinary achievements, and through their service and generosity, they have made those achievements possible.”

Schreyer was born on Jan. 13, 1928, in Williamsport, Pa., where his father managed the local office of a stock brokerage that Merrill Lynch later acquired. He worked there part-time while in high school and joined Merrill Lynch as a junior executive trainee after graduating from college.

He became head of the firm’s Trenton, N.J. office in 1963 and then held a succession of positions in its retail branch office system before becoming the New York metropolitan area regional director in 1972. He became head of Merrill Lynch’s government securities subsidiary the following year.

Schreyer became Merrill Lynch’s president in 1982 and was named CEO and chairman in 1985. Schreyer also served on the boards of several other firms including Schering-Plough, Deere & Co., Callaway Golf and U.K.-based Willis Corroon.

He also was a trustee and international councilor with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based bipartisan public policy institute.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)