Robert W. Pratt IV of Essex, Connecticut, passed away peacefully on June 12, 2017. He was 86.

The son of Caroline (White) and Robert W. Pratt III, he was raised in Warwick Neck, Rhode Island, where he acquired a lifelong love of sailing. He attended the Moses Brown School until he moved with his family to San Antonio, Texas, following his junior year in high school. In 1953, he graduated from the University of Texas, where he was an active member and president of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After graduation, he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army during the days leading up to America’s entry into the Vietnam War.

In 1957, Bob married the love of his life, Ann Prosswimmer. They began their married life in Providence, where he worked for his father conducting market research. They then moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he received his M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan.

The Pratts lived in many places during their long marriage, including Greenwich; Louisville, Kentucky; Simsbury, Conn., and Rye. In 2006, they moved to Essex.

Mr. Pratt had a long career in business. He joined General Electric Company in 1963 as an economist and spent 14 years with GE in marketing and strategic planning assignments. He was later responsible for strategy development at Heublein, Inc., R.J. Reynolds Food & Beverage Group, and Avon Products, Inc. He retired from Avon as Executive Vice President and a member of the Corporate Executive Committee. During his long career, he found great joy in mentoring others and went out of his way to do so.

From 1992 through 1998, he taught a course in Strategic Marketing Planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business Planning where he was Marketing-Executive-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor.

Service was an important part of his life. He was a former member of the Kentucky Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and served on several non-profit boards, including The Osborn Retirement Community, the Marketing Science Institute, and Ventures in Education.

His other passion was business ethics. He was a supporter and board member of The Institute for Global Ethics for many years. Bob and Ann’s enthusiasm and support also helped launch ethics education at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Their generosity will support that educational endeavor well into the future.

A wise and gentle man, he was devoted to his wife, his family, and to his country. He believed strongly in the responsibility of each person to contribute towards the broader social good. Bob gave generously of his time, encouragement, and expertise, and worked quietly and diligently throughout his life to leave the world a better place than he found it.

His wife Ann passed away in Essex on March 8, 2017. He is survived by his sisters, Imogene Pratt Luther and Cynthia W. Pratt; his brothers, Sam and Thomas White, his daughters, Cynthia Pratt and Carrie Pratt; and his grandchildren, Kwena and Tumi Moloto.

Interment was held July 1 at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.

Memorial donations may be sent to The World Ocean School, PO Box 51091, Boston, MA 02205. To share a memory of Robert, or send a condolence to his family, visit

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