Louis F. Bantle, who helped build the U.S. Tobacco Company into one of the most dominant players in the industry, died in Greenwich on Oct. 10. According to his son, Robert, Bantle died of complications from cancer. He was 81.
U.S. Tobacco was best known for its Skoal and Copenhagen brands of chewing tobacco. During his time with the company, Bantle expanded sales, making USTC a Fortune 500 company. As CEO, he led the company to an 80 percent share of the chewing tobacco market.
Bantle graduated from Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in 1951. He then served two years as a Marine captain during the Korean War. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who began as a salesman in 1929 and retired as chief executive in 1972. Bantle began as an advertising manager in 1962.
"He was such a kind man to so many charities," said Jack Clark, former executive director of the Bruce Museum. "Lou was a one-of-a-kind individual. It's hard to describe."
Bantle was named chairman of the Connecticut Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission in 1991. He received the Semper Fi Award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. He also served on the board of the Bruce Museum. When Bantle wasn't helping better others or build his industry, he spent time relaxing on the golf course.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia; son, Bob; daughter, Terri Walker, and four grandchildren. Funeral services will be private. Memorial donations can be made in Bantle's name to the International Institute for Alcoholism Education & Training, High Watch Recovery Center Building Fund or Father Martin's Ashley.
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