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Robert D. Stuart Jr. ’46JD,
Quaker Oats CEO and
America First founder, dies at 98

The man who brought us instant oatmeal, toy ads on the backs of cereal boxes, and the America First non-intervention movement has died at 98. Among his other accomplishments, Robert D. Stuart Jr. ’46JD was also a Yale Law School graduate and former ambassador to Norway.

Born into the family that founded Quaker Oats, Stuart earned his bachelor's degree at Princeton and then came to Yale Law. In 1940, he helped organize the America First Committee with the goal of keeping the US out of the war in Europe.

Often associated with the anti-Semitism of Charles Lindbergh, America First was a broader political movement whose Yale Law founders included future US President Gerald Ford ’41LLB, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart ’37, ’41LLB, Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver ’38, ’41LLB, and Yale president Kingman Brewster ’41.

“Most of us in our generation who were in any way thoughtful about history and international affairs learned that the US didn’t accomplish very much in committing troops to the First World War, which was a terrible slaughter of the talent of the Western world—an internecine conflagration,” Stuart said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

He took a leave from law school to run America First. But after the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, Stuart joined the army, becoming a major. He returned to Yale after the war.

During his tenure as Quaker Oats CEO, Stuart introduced instant oatmeal and Quaker granola bars. He also bought Fisher-Price Toy Company: “The back of the cereal box on the breakfast table just seemed to be a logical fit between the cereal and toy businesses,” he said.

After retiring from Quaker Oats (which is now owned by PepsiCo), Stuart became US ambassador to Norway under President Ronald Reagan. He died on May 8.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Robert D. Stuart Jr., America First, Law School, Quaker Oats
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