Daniel A. Cronin, Jr. of Osterville, formerly of Concord, North Falmouth, and Naples FL, passed away peacefully on July 12 after a long and stoic struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
Born 11 March 1929 to Daniel A. and Eileen Cronin of Lexington, brother of Robert L. Cronin of Falls Village CT and the late Maureen Cronin of Lexington, he leaves his beloved wife of 65 years, the former Jane F. Welch of West Roxbury. Mr. Cronin is also survived by his son Geoffrey and his wife Maria (Gould) Cronin of Concord and their children Alexandra, Matthew and Olivia; his daughter Ellen and her husband William J. Wedge of Wellington FL and their children Wil, Peter, Tegan, Sam and McKenzie; and his daughter Susan of Weston, wife of the late William J. Burchard, and their children Joe and Molly.
Mr. Cronin grew up in Lexington. As a young boy, he sold subscriptions to and delivered the local newspaper, fixed up and sold old bikes with the help of his Uncle Neil, and picked beans at a local farm. At Lexington High School, he was senior class president, editor of the school newspaper, and voted Most Likely To Succeed by his classmates.
In 1950, he graduated with honors in Economics from Harvard University, where he was president of the Catholic Club and was active with crew, the Crimson, and the Lampoon. He worked a variety of jobs during college, including a lucrative business booking high society orchestras and as a Boston tour guide. He wrote his honors thesis on a new concept which would become known as a shopping mall. This thesis led to his first full-time job with Gilchrist’s Department Stores, where he quickly advanced from buyer to assistant store manager to deputy of the chain’s general merchandising manager.
Mr. Cronin joined the hospital products division of Macalaster Bicknell as a sales representative in 1951, advancing to sales manager and then division president. At age 31, he bought the division and changed its name to MACBICK, in a transaction that would later be known as a leveraged buyout; gave ownership options and profit sharing to employees, then very rare policies; implemented just-in-time manufacturing, fifteen years before that practice migrated from Japan to the West; and paid off the LBO to the original owners in just six years. MACBICK became a popular Harvard Business School case study in management innovation. In 1971, Mr. Cronin merged the company into NYSE-listed C.R. Bard, where he became the longest-serving director in Bard history.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Cronin became an early venture capital pioneer, seeding companies that would later go public, such as Boston Market and Paychex. In 1980 he founded Northbridge, a private money management firm.
Mr. Cronin was President of the Harvard Business School Association of Boston; a director of the Harvard Alumni Association; president of the Smaller Business Association of New England; and a board director of several successful companies. In his spare time, without compensation, he managed seven consecutive U.S. House campaigns (Fifth District-Mass.), winning them all, and served pro bono as Northeast director of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1978, he was instrumental in getting the Steiger
Amendment passed, which lowered the Federal capital gains tax rate from 49% to 25% and helped set the stage for the national economic boom of the 1980s.
Mr. Cronin was a corporator of Massachusetts General Hospital, and a trustee of the Middlesex Institution for Savings, the Nashoba Brooks School, and what would later be known as UMass Lowell. He enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard in 1951, and was honorably discharged in 1972 from the USAF Reserves as a Captain.
He was an avid (which does not mean “good”) golfer and a long-time member of the Oyster Harbors Club. His best score ever was an 85, at, of all places, the Old Course at Saint Andrews in Scotland in 1995. That same year generated the rest of his highlight reel, a hole-in-one at Pelican Bay in Naples.
His greatest joy was Jane, his partner and best friend for life, and his treasures were his ten grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 17 at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 76 Wianno Avenue, Osterville. Private burial will follow in Mosswood Cemetery, Cotuit.