George Rathmann, the founding CEO of Thousand Oaks-based Amgen, has died, the company said April 23.
Born in 1927, Rathmann helmed what is now Ventura County’s largest private-sector employer from 1980 to 1988 and was the chairman of the board until 1990. He had been recruited by Bill Bowes, one of Amgen’s founders, to run the firm.
Rathmann displayed a keen mix of scientific and business acumen and was critical in garnering the capital that Amgen needed during its early years. He earned the nickname “Golden Throat” for his ability to persuade financiers to invest in the young company.
“George Rathmann was a biotechnology giant, and we were privileged to have him as our first CEO,” Kevin Sharer, current CEO of Amgen, said in a statement. “Bob Bradway, our next CEO, and I both share George’s commitment to patients and conviction that being science-based is the best foundation for innovation in biotechnology.”
In 2004, Amgen erected a full-size statue of Rathmann on its campus. In 2005, the company established the annual George B. Rathmann Award, its highest honor for employees.