A Tribute to Bob Harris - Visionary, Innovator and Entrepreneur

Posted on July 14, 2021   |   

This article was reviewed by the COPD Foundation Content Review and Evaluation Committee.


The COPD Foundation lost one of its most admired champions on July 5, 2021. Bob Harris will be remembered not only for his entrepreneurial skill and passion for improving people’s health, but also for his tireless efforts advocating for awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the millions of patients and caregivers it impacts each and every day.

Robert Myron ("Bob") was born on December 16, 1925 in New York City and died at home in Englewood, NJ surrounded by his family. Predeceased by his beloved wife, Cecily, he leaves behind a wealth of treasured memories and a model for realizing a full and loving life.

After a successful career as an advertising and marketing executive, Bob struck out on his own, becoming an unparalleled entrepreneur. Because of his family history of heart disease, he was driven to develop products that would improve people's health. Someone for whom the term “health and wellness” was part of his DNA long before it became a phrase in popular culture, Bob created companies whose products had a profound impact; Nutrition Industries, Weight Watchers, Heart Beat, Smart Balance and Grain Berry Cereals.

Just a few years ago Bob, along with his son Peter, President of Grain Berry, sat down with Dr. Mehmet Oz on the Dr. Oz Show to highlight the benefits of Grain Berry ONYX sorghum and Grain Berry cereals and products. Dr. Oz asked Bob, "At 91 years old why did you decide now to create a whole new way of eating cereal?" He replied, "I didn't decide now. I've done it all my life. My father died at age 40, my brother died at age 50. I just spent my entire life creating foods that would make you live longer and stronger." His tireless efforts to develop Grain Berry's 3-D antioxidant products, driven by his passion to fight diabetes, cancer, heart disease, continued to his very last days.

The creativity that nourished Bob, nourished others. Board Chair Dr. James D. Crapo notes, "Bob was one-of-a-kind. Not only was he a brilliant businessman, he was someone who thought outside the box on so many fronts, including in his wish to promote COPD awareness. His generosity of spirit knew no bounds, from long-time philanthropic support to the Foundation to inspiring suggestions on cause marketing and how to move our work forward. It is our hope and intention to carry on that legacy."

In lieu of flowers, the family asks to please consider supporting the COPD Foundation or the American Kidney Fund in his honor.

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