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Robert H. Platt

August 29, 2018
Robert H.  Platt
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Obituary for Robert H. Platt

Robert H. Platt, former resident of New Canaan and Riverside CT, and Vero Beach Florida, died peacefully on August 29, 2018 in Sarasota Florida. He was 98. Born in Brooklyn NY in 1920, he attended Adelphi Academy (1933-1937) where he excelled at sports and academics, which earned him a football scholarship to Colgate University (1937-1941). He was a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity.

After graduation he was admitted into General Electric’s elite Corporate Audit Business Training program. This was a rigorous multi-year program that trained the next generation of corporate leaders and executives by immersing them in real-world audit, technology, and operations jobs. Enlisting in the Navy during World War 2, that GE training prepared him to enter Harvard University’s Navy Supply Corps School where he learned how to become a Supply and Dispersing officer, and Assistant Paymaster. He served aboard the USS Sturtevant, which was an escort destroyer guarding dangerous supply routes across the Atlantic. After the war he returned to GE and worked for twenty-two years, rising to become the Treasurer of General Electric Credit Corporation, and later, the Vice President of Finance for the prestigious Turbine Division.

In 1963 he became the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Magnavox, and five years later was promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He also became a member of the Board of Directors. During his tenure he was at the pivot-point of the electronic home entertainment industry’s transition from furniture style television sets, to individual components.

Magnavox introduced the box-top teleprompter which laid the groundwork for Pay-TV. In 1966 the first general purpose commercial facsimile machine, the Magnafax telecopier, was developed and later marketed with Xerox. In 1972 he introduced Odyssey, the world’s first video game. In November of 1973 he was credited with bringing Frank Sinatra out of retirement for a one-hour TV special, “Old Blue Eyes is Back.”

Mr. Platt has served on the Boards of Directors of Goodyear, Lincoln Financial and Time Magazine, and was a Trustee of Colgate University.

To address the imminent collapse of freight and passenger traffic in the East as a result of the railroad bankruptcies, Congress enacted legislation that formed an agency; the Consolidated Railroad Act (Conrail) in 1976. From 1977 to 1986 Mr. Platt served as Executive Vice President (CFO) and twice testified before Congress for additional funding. Conrail’s first year of profitability came in 1981. By 1983 Conrail was the fourth largest freight hauler in the United States, and by 1986 was showing a $314 million a year profit. In 1987 Conrail was returned to the private sector in what was then the largest initial public offering in U.S. history, raising $1.9 billion dollars (3.6 in 2018 dollars).

Robert Platt was not only a business titan, he also was the beloved patriarch of his family and known for his kindness and generosity. He was preceded in death by his wife Colette (Gaffney), his son Garry (Sheryl) daughter Laura Perry and her husband Norris Perry. He is survived by his daughter Marion Platt (Gary Duzinski), eight grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

Services will be at Heald Funeral Home in St Albans Vermont. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Tidewell Hospice in Sarasota, Florida.

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Event Information

Visitation will be private for her family.

Cemetery Details


Holy Cross Cemetery Final Resting Place

Fairfax Street
Saint Albans, VT 05478

Fairfax Street Saint Albans 05478 VT
United States

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