Ken Lay died Wednesday morning from a heart attack in Aspen, Colo.
NAME: Kenneth L. Lay
OCCUPATION: Consultant; founder and former chairman and CEO of Enron Corp.
FAMILY: Wife, Linda; son Mark, daughter Robin from a previous marriage.
BORN: 1942 in Tyrone, Mo. His father, Omer, tried selling farm equipment and working in a feed store, but became a Baptist minister after bankruptcy forced the family to seek refuge with relatives.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from the University of Missouri; a doctorate in economics from the University of Houston.
WORK HISTORY: Senior economist at Humble Oil and Refining Co. in Houston, the predecessor of Exxon, in 1965. After earning his doctorate, Lay was an economist in the Navy, and in 1971 became Undersecretary of Energy under Rogers Morton. Envisioning a deregulated natural gas industry where the market set gas prices, Lay left government in 1974 to be an executive of Florida Gas, becoming president of the company by 1981. In 1982, he returned to Houston to run Transco Energy Co., and in 1984 took the helm of Houston Natural Gas. In 1985, HNG merged with Omaha, Neb.-based InterNorth, and the combined company became Enron with Lay as CEO. Enron reached No. 7 on the Fortune 500 in 2000 and claimed $101 billion in annual revenues.
POLITICAL ACTIVITY: Nicknamed "Kenny Boy" by President Bush. In Enron's heyday under Lay's leadership, Bush received more than $550,000 from the company, its employees and their relatives during his political career — the most from any source. More than 250 members of Congress from both parties also received Enron contributions, though three-fourths of $5.77 million given to candidates since 1989 went to Republicans. Vice President Dick Cheney sought Lay's input on energy policy and Lay routinely spoke publicly on economic and energy policy.
CHARITABLE GIVING: Before its fall Enron typically gave about 1 percent of its pretax earnings to various causes under Lay's leadership, and he gave privately through the Linda and Ken Lay Foundation. Internal Revenue Service records showed the foundation took in $14 million in 2000 and donated $2.5 million to charities, museums and other organizations in Texas and across the country.
COMMUNITY ACTIVISM: Lay led efforts to build business support for a new ballpark for the Houston Astros to keep the team from moving elsewhere. In 1999, Enron pledged $100 million over 30 years to plaster the new venue with the company's name and logo, and Lay threw out the first pitch at the park's inaugural game in 2000.
CHANGE OF PLANS: Jeffrey Skilling, whom Lay hired in 1990 to help turn Enron into a trading behemoth, took over as CEO in February 2001. Lay remained as chairman. Lay resumed the CEO job upon Skilling's abrupt departure in August 2001, and two months later revealed massive third-quarter losses and a $1.2 billion writedown in shareholder equity that sent investors fleeing.
RESIGNATION: Lay resigned as CEO in January 2002 and stepped down as chairman the next month. In February 2002 he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer a congressional panel's questions after stating he was "deeply troubled" by declining to testify because "it may be perceived by some that I have something to hide."
"I can honestly say that I have never felt better about the company." — Upon resuming the position of CEO in August 2001.
"I might add that I and Enron's board of directors continue to have the highest faith and confidence in Andy and believe he is doing an outstanding job as CFO." — Oct. 23, 2001, the day before former finance chief Andrew Fastow was pushed out upon revelations that he ran shady partnerships that hid debt, inflated profits and enriched him.
"My personal belief is that Enron stock is an incredible bargain at current prices." — to employees in September 2001.
"I come here today with a profound sadness about what has happened to Enron, to its current and former employees, retirees, shareholders and other stakeholders." — February 2002 to the Senate Commerce Committee.