Voices of Minnesota

Oral History Interview with E. Robert Kinney

DATE: July 9, 2009

INTERVIEWER: James E. Fogerty

E. Robert Kinney was born in Burnham, Maine in 1918. He was educated at Bates College and Harvard University. He began a crab-canning business that was later sold to Gorton's; Kinney became president of Gorton's and later helped negotiate its merger into General Mills. Moving to General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis following the merger, Kinney eventually became chairman and CEO of General Mills, from which he retired in 1982.

In the interview Kinney discusses his childhood in Maine; education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine; launching of a business to can crab and sell it to grocery stores in New England; acquisition of the business by Gorton's and his leadership of Gorton's during a period of rapid expansion. Also discussed is the merger of Gorton's into General Mills, Kinney's tenure at president, chairman and CEO of General Mills, and the company's rapid growth and diversification into clothing, toys, restaurants, and other businesses. Kinney also notes his impressions of life in Minnesota, and his civic involvements over the years.

LENGTH OF INTERVIEW: 1 hour 29 minutes

TRANSCRIPT: 43 pages