Robert J. Carbonell
Robert J. (Bob) Carbonell
Robert Carbonell was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, C.A. on March 20, 1927 and died April 26th, 2013 in Miami, FL of complications from pneumonia. He is survived by his wife of nearly 63 years, Evelyn (Porges), of Coconut Grove, FL and New Canaan, CT and their five children and their spouses: Armando and Jean (Revell) of West Barnstable and Cambridge, MA; Robert and Patricia (Fairchild) of Chapel Hill, NC; Margaret Carbonell Smith and Greg Smith of Tualatin, OR; John and Cheryl (Bloom) of Norwalk, CT; and Juliet and Bo Marcus of New Canaan, CT. He was the cherished grandfather of 16 and great-grandfather of three, and had many nieces and nephews. Bob is also survived by two brothers, Ricardo and Rafael, and was pre-deceased by his brother Carlos and sister Marina Morales Erlich.
Bob Carbonell had a successful career as a corporate executive, but he was a scientist at heart. He received his doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of El Salvador. In 1949, he was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study food biochemistry at Purdue University. There he met his wife, Evelyn, who was a Speech and Hearing Teacher at Purdue. The two returned to San Salvador, where their first son was born and Bob developed a new method for the rapid curing of green coffee beans. This work led him to be recruited back to the U.S. to work in research and development for Standard Brands, which later became RJR Nabisco. As a food scientist, Bob worked on a variety of projects, including the development of cholesterol-free egg substitutes and the attempt to engineer a fat-free peanut. He was awarded patents for his work on instant pudding and a process for concentrating coffee and tea without losing flavor.
He rose from research to management, ultimately becoming Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer of RJR Nabisco and CEO of Del Monte Corporation. Under his leadership, Nabisco dominated the “cookie wars” of the 1980s, using computerized production methods to ensure that customer favorites like Oreos and Ritz came out exactly the same every time. As Chairman of the American Trade Consortium, Bob traveled to Moscow with other corporate leaders to work with Gorbachev on opening the Soviet market to American products. He served on the boards of numerous industry and government organizations. Strongly committed to science education, he was President of the Board of Trustees of EARTH University in Costa Rica. In 1990, Purdue University’s College of Agriculture awarded him an Honorary Doctorate, followed by its Outstanding Food Scientist Award in 2001. After retiring from RJR Nabisco and Del Monte, Carbonell served as President and CEO of Bionaire Inc., and later Tetley USA, before retiring completely in 2000.
Bob was an enthusiastic photographer and digital printer, and in retirement took special pleasure in photographing his family, flowers, and astronomical events, and producing holiday and birthday cards under his own imprint, El Supremo Studios. He particularly enjoyed gathering his large extended family during vacations in Florida and New England. He will be missed for his keen sense of humor and his generosity of spirit.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, at Plymouth Congregational Church, Miami, Florida. Interment will take place in Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made to autismspeaks.org.