Beatrice chief in hospital with cancer

January 19, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Reginald F. Lewis, the Dunbar High School star athlete wh went on to create TLC Beatrice International Holdings, the nation's largest black-owned business, has been hospitalized with brain cancer and was in a coma late yesterday, the company said.

Jean S. Fugett Jr., Mr. Lewis' brother, was named by the New York-based company to take over day-to-day operations as head of the office of the chairman. The company did not provide further details on Mr.Lewis' illness or prognosis.

Mr. Lewis, 50, has served as chairman and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice since he led a group that bought the company from Beatrice International in 1987. The leveraged buyout was valued at $985 million.

After practicing law in New York, he created TLC Group Inc., which bought McCall Pattern Co. from Esmark Inc. for $24.5 million in 1984. Three years later, TLC Group sold McCall for $95 million.

Last year, Black Enterprise magazine listed TLC Beatrice, a food processing and distribution company, as the nation's No. 1 black-owned business. The company had revenues of $1.54 billion in 1991, far outdistancing the No. 2 entry, Johnson Publishing Co. of Chicago, publisher of Ebony magazine, with earnings of $261.4 million.

Mr. Fugett, 41, was also known for his athletic achievements. Following graduation from Amherst College, he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he distinguished himself as an all-pro tight end and played in Super Bowl X. He finished his football career with the Washington Redskins.

Mr. Fugett, who went on to get his law degree from George Washington University, "has spent much of his business career at his brother's side, handling numerous financial, transactional and trouble-shooting assignments," the company said.

He has been a member of TLC Beatrice's board of directors and its management committee since 1987.

He assumed the title of vice chairman yesterday.

As part of the TLC statement, Mr. Fugett said: "I know the objective for the company was that the management would always work for the benefit of all the company's constituencies -- the family, the shareholders and all of our partners and employees. Our goal will be to maximize returns from each of our business units, consistent with what's best over the long term."

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