Robert D. McBride

NO. 17976  |  5 Nov 1927 - 14 Aug 1996

Died in Grosse Pointe Farms
Interred in West Point Post Cemetery, West Point, NY

In the Korean War, Bob parachuted behind the enemy lines and landed in a mine field, surviving through patience and imagination. He would encounter other challenges almost as dramatic in his military and civilian careers. Bob had the integrity, initiative, intellect, and imagination necessary for leadership at the highest level. He validated his capabilities by becoming a recognized captain of the steel industry.

As the eldest of four children of BG and Mrs. Glen McBride, "Army brat" Robert Dana McBride was expected to meet high expectations and responsibilities. In 1945, Bob graduated from the Oklahoma Military Academy, and with his somewhat boisterous, yet warm personality, he sought to prepare for West Point by attending USMA Prep at Amherst College.

As a cadet, Bob participated in the 100th Nite Show, sang in the Cadet Choirs, and was active in boxing, handball, and the Goat Football Team. He had a well-rounded, likable personality and was tagged "Muck" because of his broad shoulders and strength. He and D-l classmates Bell and Jones were on the winning Goat Football Team. During Christmas leave of 1948, Bob met a petite charmer from St. Louis, Glory Haefner. His roommates noticed the change from a droll, tight-lipped, somewhat depressed or grim persona to a sharply brightened, happy persona. Following a whirlwind romance, Bob and Glory were married on 8 Jul 1950, just two weeks after the Korean War began. They honeymooned in Canada before Bob reported to his first duty station.

After airborne and ranger training, LT McBride was assigned to a clandestine unit that conducted operations off the coast of Korea. The unit was so secret that neither Bob nor his classmates assigned had an entry in their 201 files about that assignment. Bob's performance in ground conflict in Korea earned him the nation's third and fourth highest decorations. The Silver Star was awarded for gallantry in action, displayed when McBride led his men in a surprise assault against the Communists and captured 82 of them. While withdrawing, he stemmed an enemy assault and saved one of his men who could not swim to the rescue boats. The Bronze Star Medal was presented when he and his men went through a hail of enemy fire to capture a strategically valuable island off the mainland of Korea. His next assignment was as aide to the J-3 General in Tokyo Far East Headquarters, where Glory and his son joined him. They were present when the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals were pinned on Bob.

When Bob left the Army, he sought a career that would be as challenging and tough as his Infantry experience. He obtained an industrial engineer position with Granite City Steel (GCS), the largest steel company in the St. Louis area and a major provider of flat-rolled steel. With his leadership abilities, he quickly advanced from junior industrial engineer through foreman, superintendent, vice president and general manager, to president of GCS Division in 1976. In 1977, he was named president of Great Lakes Steel Division. Granite City and Great Lakes Divisions ultimately became National Steel through a series of complicated conglomerate mergers. Bob went on to become the only president of National Steel promoted from within. Bob and Glory moved to the Pittsburgh area, where corporate headquarters was located. In 1982, while president of National, he was named president of the 13,000 member Association of Iron and Steel Engineers. There, they renewed a friendship with classmates Don and Sally Dunbar, forming a close, lasting relationship.

One of Bob's greatest challenges was to facilitate a partnership between National and Japans Nippon Kokan KK. Bob knew he had to overcome differences in cultures and operating philosophies. The Japanese officials liked his gruff, straightforward approach, which eliminated misunderstanding. Under McBride, National Steel used Japanese processes, improving the operation and becoming the first major steel corporation to return to profitability after the 1982-83 steel industry disasters. Pinnacle, a popular television show in the 1980s, and the Wall Street Journal ran features on Bob as a captain of the steel industry. Bob was always concerned with the morale of his people. He used the Infantry style of direct, honest exchange of information between leader and follower, even with the union. Many in the industry considered him a maverick, but he was respected for his achievements. To raise the standards of ethics and behavior in the steel industry, Bob used his charisma and initiated a Management Prayer Breakfast policy.

When Bob retired from National, the McBrides left Pittsburgh. They moved to Washington, DC, to be closer to the family, but Bob was called out of retirement to be the CEO and lead the Mclouth Steel Corporation in Michigan. Again, he returned an organization to profitability before he retired in December 1995.

Despite having quit smoking long before, Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 1996. Again, he displayed courage and handled chemotherapy and radiation with humor and elegant acceptance. He was doing well, but then suffered a relapse, dying on 7 Aug 1996 at his home in Grosse Point, MI. Bob showed his family how to die with great faith and dignity. He was a man at peace with God and with himself.

Bob, who loved West Point and worked for it through the years, was a decorated soldier and a successful industrialist. Muck always tried to make a difference. He served on four corporate boards and did pro bono work for the University of Detroit and the Marine Biological Laboratory at Cape Cod.

Bob and Glory were blessed with four children: Scott, Susan; twins Kelly and Kitty; and eight grandchildren. He cherished his family, and they admired and adored him. For Glory, it was a lasting love affair since meeting at Christmas time during Cow year. Glory, the family, and classmates were on hand when Robert Dana McBride was interred at West Point, joining the other heroes buried there, overlooking the Hudson River.

--Classmate and family