McDonald’s First African American Senior Executive and Board Member Passes Away

Robert M. Beavers Jr. served with distinction between 1982 and 1999

Beavers (pictured far left) on the cover of Black Enterprise's February 1988 issue.

Robert M. Beavers Jr., who has died at age 71, was a pioneering business leader who became one of the first African American board members of McDonald’s.

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Born in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 1944, Beavers started his 37-year career at McDonald’s as a $1-an-hour crew person while in school at George Washington University. After working as a student employee for the fast-food chain, Beavers was offered a position at the restaurants headquarters in 1968. It was then he moved to New York and opened more than 150 McDonald’s in the northeast area. Soon after, he became regional vice president in Washington, D.C. and returned to McDonald’s headquarters as senior vice president.

Beavers appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise magazine in 1988 for their “25 Hottest Black Managers in Corporate America” list and he has received numerous awards for his philanthropic and business contributions, including mayoral citations from the mayors of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

In 2000, Beavers, who many referred to as Bob, retired from McDonald’s and joined other investors in buying Fresh Start Bakeries, a supplier of buns for the fast-food restaurant. He later acquired businesses in several industries including food service, manufacturing, logistics and real estate, in addition to forming Beavers Holdings in Woodridge, Illinois. At the time of his death, he was still serving as chief executive of the firm.

Beavers sudden death occurred Tuesday, Aug. 18 while on vacation in China with family and friends. He lived in Oak Brook, Illinois, and is survived by his wife of 50+ years, Josephine, his four children, who are all involved in the business, and a host of family and friends.