Apple director Jerry York is dead at 71

A former CFO at IBM and Chrysler and an adviser to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorkian

Photo: Apple Inc.

Apple (AAPL) announced Thursday that Jerome B. York, who served on the company’s board of directors for more than a dozen years, has died. He was 71.

York was hospitalized Tuesday night after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage in his Detroit home.

He was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1938 and trained as an engineer. He worked his way up at Chrysler to become Lee Iacocca’s chief financial officer. He also served as IBM’s (IBM) CFO and helped financier Kirk Kerkorkian engineer a failed bid to take over Chrysler.

York was vice chairman of Tracinda Corp., Kerkorkian’s private investment firm, when Steve Jobs made his triumphant return to Apple. York was invited to become a director after the boardroom coup in which Gil Amelio was ousted and Jobs installed as interim CEO.

York and fellow director Al Gore headed Apple’s internal investigation of the circumstances by which Jobs was awarded options for 7.5 million shares of the company’s stock in 2001. Although the shares were backdated to a board meeting that never took place, they found “no misconduct” on Jobs’ part — a conclusion with which the U.S. government ultimately concurred.

“Jerry joined Apple’s Board in 1997 when most doubted the company’s future,” said Jobs in a statement prepared for release. “He has been a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on our Board for over a dozen years. It’s been a privilege to know and work with Jerry, and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

York’s death and the departure last summer of Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt (see here) leave Apple with only five outside directors: Gore; Bill Campbell, former CEO of Intuit; Millard Drexler, CEO of J. Crew (JCG); Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon (AVP); and Arthur Levinson, chairman of Genentech.‘s front page Thursday was given over to a tribute to York’s “extraordinary character, business expertise and leadership.”

For an account of the behind-the-scenes role York played in Detroit during his long career in the auto industry, see Alex Taylor’s When Jerry York shook up GM at

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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