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P. Frederick ‘Fred’ Kahn

SHARON — P. Frederick “Fred” Kahn, 82, died peacefully in the company of his wife, Gail, and two daughters, Hartley Cassady and Meredith Rollins, on July 11, 2018, after a multi-year battle with lung cancer. Fred was a resident of Charleston, S.C., and Sharon.

Fred was born on Oct. 10, 1935, in Indianapolis, Ind., to Florence (Copeland) and Paul Louis Kahn. He graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in mathematics in 1957. He had received an NROTC Scholarship to Purdue, and on the day of graduation was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, where he served for three years. His experience in the Marine Corps was one of the building blocks for his subsequent career and life.

Fred was released from the Marine Corps in 1960 and took a job with the Atomic Energy Division of the Babcock & Wilcox Company, in Lynchburg, Va. It was there that he met Gail Bass, whom he eventually married.  

During his year in Lynchburg, Fred was accepted to the Harvard Business School, joining the Class of 1963. Upon graduation, he joined the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became brand manager on Joy dishwashing liquid and Tide. In 1970 he was recruited by PepsiCo, which had just acquired the Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Fred joined Wilson as vice president of marketing, and the Kahns moved to Winnetka, a suburb of Chicago, Ill., where they lived for almost 40 years.

In 1978, Fred was recruited to join Sara Lee Corporation initially as senior vice president of strategic planning and then as a senior vice president responsible for the corporation’s frozen food companies. From there, he joined the Heidrick & Struggles Company, one of the oldest and largest executive search firms in the world. He was appointed managing partner of the Chicago office, where he founded and led the firm’s Consumer Practice. He also served on the firm’s Board of Directors and Executive Committees. Fred worked at Heidrick for 13 years, until he retired in 2001.  

Fred chronicled his business career in a memoir, entitled “The Story of a Modestly Successful Harvard Business School Graduate, As Told in the Case Study Method.” Written for his family and friends, the book charmingly illuminates his trajectory and offers advice on managing one’s career and learning to lead.

Fred loved golf, which he played with enthusiasm. He was a longtime member of Indian Hill Club in Winnetka, where he served as president. He was on the board of the Sharon Country Club, and was a member of Yeaman’s Hall Club in Charleston, as well as the Carolina Yacht Club, the University Club of Chicago and the Harvard Club of New York City. In addition, he served for years on the board of Music of the Baroque in Chicago as well as on the board of the Charleston Symphony.

Fred believed he lived an extraordinary life, starting where he did, doing what he did, ending where he ended. But of all of the pieces of his life, nothing meant more to him than his family and friends.

Fred is survived by his wife, Gail; his two daughters, Hartley Cassady and Meredith Rollins; and his four grandsons, Tucker and Griffin Cassady and Copeland and Walton Rollins. He was devoted to all of them, and they brought him an extraordinary measure of joy. He is also survived by his sister, Kathryn Kahn of St. Louis, Mo.

Fred was also blessed by many long-term friendships, going back to his time in the Marine Corps. In each place he and Gail lived — Cincinnati, Winnetka, Sharon and Charleston — Fred leaves behind friends he has had for a lifetime.

A memorial service is planned for later this year at the French Protestant Huguenot Church in Charleston. Any expressions of sympathy should be made in the form of donations to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.