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ITW Chairman, CEO David Speer dies at age 61 after illness

David BarbarSpeer visit Hawaii 2010. Phoprovided by family

David and Barbara Speer visit Hawaii in 2010. Photo provided by family

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Updated: November 19, 2012 3:14PM



Illinois Tool Works Inc. Chairman and CEO David B. Speer has died after battling cancer. He was 61.

The company announced Sunday that E. Scott Santi, 51, succeeds Speer as chief executive officer, and lead director Robert S. Morrison, 70, becomes non-executive chairman of the board.

Speer, of Winnetka, died Saturday morning at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago after battling a terminal form of cancer, his son, Blake Speer, said.

The Glenview-based industrial equipment maker announced Oct. 15 that the Illinois Tool Works CEO was taking a medical leave of absence, a year after announcing that he was being treated for a medical condition. Santi had been serving as acting CEO since Oct. 15.

“David’s energy and enthusiasm leave an indelible mark on ITW, the Chicago business community, and the many not-for-profit organizations he served,” Morrison said.

Speer was born April 6, 1951, in Ontario, Canada, spending part of his childhood in Selma, Ala., and moving to west suburban Barrington when he was a sophomore in high school, his son said. He graduated from Barrington High School, where he met his wife, Barbara.

In addition to his wife and son, Speer is survived by daughter Sarah Walter of San Francisco.

Visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Donnellan Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. A funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Church, 1077 Tower Road, Winnetka.

Speer joined Illinois Tool Works in 1978 and served in a number of selling, marketing, and management positions. In 2005, he was elected chief executive officer and in 2006 assumed the additional responsibilities as chairman of the board.

Speer graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in industrial engineering in 1973. He earned a master’s in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1977.

ITW, which has $17 billion in revenues and employs 65,000 people around the world manufacturing a broad spectrum of components, equipment, devises and fasteners.

Santi, 51, joined ITW in 1983, after graduation from the University of Illinois the same year. He was elected executive vice president in 2004 and vice chairman in 2008. Santi earned a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University in 1992.



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