Former Cargill CEO Ernie Micek dies at age 84

Served as chairman and CEO from 1995 until retirement in 2000

Ernest S. “Ernie” Micek, 84, a former chairman and CEO of Cargill Inc., died on October 29, 2020.

Micek was born in Arcadia, Wisconsin, on February 18, 1936. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1959 with a degree in chemical engineering. He went on to work for Cargill where, for more than 40 years, he rose from night shift supervisor at an oilseeds plant in Norfolk, Virginia, to being elected chairman and CEO in 1995. He retired from Cargill in August 2000.

He was appointed to the President’s Export Council, Asian-Pacific Economic Council and Chairman of the Emergency Committee for American Trade. He was part of the President’s Trade Mission to Africa in 1998, and was a member of President Bush’s Transition Team on Trade. He served as co-chair of the Advisory Board of the World Agricultural Forum alongside a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and testified before various House and Senate committees relating to trade matters. He gave numerous speeches, including addressing The World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in 1999. He served for 18 years as a director of Schneider National Inc. of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and five years as a director of Kwik Trip Inc. of La Crosse, Wisconsin. He has served as member of the Board of Overseers of the Carlson School of Management, Member of the Board of Trustees, University of St. Thomas, and Viterbo University, La Crosse. At University of Wisconsin, he served 17 years on the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), chairing many sub-committees, and was a Director and Chairman of the Morgridge Institute for Research. Many awards and accolades received include honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the South Dakota School of Mines, recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Coya Knutson Humanitarian Award for his support of students and their educational achievements, and the 2015 Viterbo University Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service.

Micek is survived by his wife, Sally (Gautsch); one son, Scott (Liz); three daughters, Stephanie Luetkehans, Jennifer Micek and Mollie (Jeff) Preston; 10 grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and one sister, Phyllis (Greg) Ziegeweid.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Morgridge Institute of Research. Services have been held.