1966 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Get a good education, put your head down, and work hard."
Born in Los Angeles, Roy Ash grew up during the Depression. His father was a hay and grain broker whose business didn't survive the Depression. The family lived a frugal but optimistic life. Looking back on those years, Ash considers the perspective he gained from that experience helped to motivate him as an adult.
Ash graduated from high school when he was 16. After helping his father briefly, he was employed by the Bank of America in a low entry position as a city cash-collection messenger, which paid $65 a month. This was the beginning of a 54-year relationship with the bank, first as an employee and later as a director.
Shortly after World War II began, Ash enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a private and, after a succession of promotions, became a captain in the Air Corps, serving in the Office of Management Control. After the war ended, he went to the Harvard Business School, graduating with his MBA and as a Baker Scholar.
After briefly working again with the Bank of America at its headquarters, he joined Hughes
Aircraft Company and led its finance department. In 1953, Ash, along with two friends, left Hughes to form Litton Industries. He became its president. With a combination of acquisitions and internal growth, Litton grew to a worldwide business with more than 100,000 employees.
Upon Richard Nixon's election to the presidency in 1968, he asked Ash to create and lead the President's Advisory Council on Executive Organization, which ultimately became known as the Ash Commission. Among the recommendations of the Committee was the establishment of the Office of Management and Budget to encourage and help develop results-oriented leadership throughout the federal government. Following the reelection of President Nixon, Ash was named the director of the Office of Management and Budget and was a member of the President's Cabinet. He continued in those roles into the Ford administration.
Ash says of his Horatio Alger Award, "It recognizes people who work hard to realize their goals. I am happy to be counted among the members of such a group."* Deceased