John J. Horan ’46 spent more than four decades with Merck & Co., helping to build the company into a pharmaceutical industry giant. He passed away on January 22, 2011, at the age of 90.
Horan, a graduate of both Manhattan College and Columbia Law School, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He spent four years working with the branch’s amphibious forces and traveled to various combat zones, including North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy. In 1946, after four years of service, Horan returned to the U.S. and accepted a position with the New York City office of Nims, Verdi and Martin.
Horan left the firm in 1952 to join the legal department of Merck & Co. Over the ensuing years, he rose through that company’s ranks, serving in various high-level positions. In 1976, he began his tenure as Merck’s board chairman and chief executive officer.
Horan led the company for the next nine years and continued to serve on Merck’s board of directors until 1993. Throughout his tenure, he supported critical, life-saving drug research. He also maintained a strong partnership with The Carter Center, uniting his business with the renowned philanthropic organization to aid developing nations. Horan’s civic commitment did not end there. He served on the board of the United Negro College Fund and as a trustee for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among other organizations.
Horan is survived by his wife, Julia Fitzgerald, four children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.