WASHINGTON (AP) _ John E. Robson, president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank, died Wednesday after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 71.
Robson had led the Ex-Im Bank since May 2001. The government agency provides loans to U.S. corporations to support their sales to foreign countries.
President Bush said he was saddened by Robson’s death and called him ``a man of true character and integrity.″
``Serving four presidents with dedication and honor, most recently as chairman of the Export-Import Bank, John set an example of distinguished public service,″ Bush said in a statement.
During his time in the post, Robson had to weather critics of the organization who say its operations amount to public subsidies for the companies. Bank officials, its supporters in Congress and private executives say the bank allows American companies to compete with European and Japanese firms that receive assistance from their own governments.
Robson served as deputy treasury secretary, the agency’s No. 2 position, during the first Bush administration. He also served in the Ford and Johnson administrations.
Before that he was dean of the business school at Emory University in Atlanta. He took that position in 1986 after having served as president and chief executive officer of pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle & Co.
Robson left his post as senior adviser with Robertson Stephens, a San Francisco-based investment banking firm, to head the Ex-Im Bank.
He graduated from Yale University and Harvard University law school.
Robson’s hobbies included fly fishing and tennis. In 2000 he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with his son, Douglas. His son and wife, Margaret, survive.