Dwight L. Stuart; Ex-Carnation Co. Chief


Dwight L. Stuart, former president and chief executive officer of the century-old Carnation Co. that was founded by his grandfather, has died. He was 74.

Stuart, who headed Carnation from 1973 to 1983, died Sunday at his home in Beverly Hills of lung cancer, said his son, Bruce F. Stuart.

In 1984, Stuart negotiated the sale of Carnation to Swiss-based Nestle S.A. Carnation was founded in 1899 by Stuart’s grandfather, Elbridge Amos Stuart, in Kent, Wash. Its first product was condensed milk, which the founder sold to prospectors heading north to the Yukon gold rush.

In turn, Stuart’s father, Elbridge Hadley Stuart, headed the company and coined its well-known slogan, “Milk From Contented Cows.” He planned eventually to hand Carnation to his eldest son, E. Hadley Stuart Jr., but that son left the company in 1961, complaining about limited expansion. His resignation cleared the way for his younger brother Dwight to rise to the presidency in 1973, a year after their father died.


Dwight Lyman Stuart was born in Seattle, served in the Navy during World War II, graduated from the University of Washington in 1947 and immediately went to work for Carnation as a milk plant trainee.

He rose through the ranks to assistant vice president, vice president, executive vice president and then president. He was named a director in 1960 and was a member of the executive committee for many years.

During the long Stuart family tenure, Carnation moved from producing only milk to making about 200 products, including Coffee-mate, Instant Breakfast and Contadina tomato products. The company also is a leading manufacturer of pet food.

After Carnation was sold, Stuart devoted himself to property development in Los Angeles and Palm Desert.

As a philanthropist, Stuart was honored for his work on behalf of the United Negro College Fund. He also served as a director of the Stuart Foundation, which aided education programs. He was a major donor to the American Red Cross and other charities.

Stuart is survived by four sons, Dwight Jr., William and Bruce of Los Angeles, and Douglas of Kauai, Hawaii; his brother, Elbridge Hadley Stuart Jr. of Sun Valley, Idaho; two sisters, Betty Nelson and Anne Lucas of Los Angeles, and one grandson, Joseph. A fifth son, Gregory, preceded him in death.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the American Lung Assn. of Los Angeles County, 5858 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Los Angeles, Calif. 90036.