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Iams pet food billionaire, philanthropist, Clay Mathile dies

A headshot of a man wearing glasses and a blue shirt and suit
Clay Mathile

Pet food billionaire Clay Mathile died Saturday at his home in southwest Ohio, according to his family. He was 82.

Mathile ran the Iams Company for close to 20 years before selling it to Procter and Gamble for $2.3 billion in 1999.

After selling his business, Mathile started a technology investment firm; created Aileron, a nonprofit to train small business owners; and donated to a number of philanthropic causes through the Mathile Family Foundation.

"There's no greater thing you can do for this country, this society, than to put your capital at risk to create jobs for other people," Mathile said to the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce in 2013.

Mathile donated millions to the Republican party throughout his life, including to the campaigns of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president and current Ohio Lt. Governor John Husted for governor.

The Dayton Development Coalition, Montgomery County commissioners, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and state Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) have released statements expressing their condolences to Mathile’s family.

"For many years, Clay was the go-to leader of the business community in Dayton," DeWine said. "He was a visionary, and through his passion and belief in the future of the Miami Valley, he saw what was possible and made others believe in what could be achieved. He was also a mentor to so many young businessmen and women, taking his life experiences in business to help others reach their own full potential."

Mathile was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Dayton in May 2023.

He also was one of the founders of the organization that became the Dayton Development Coalition.

"Mr. Mathile always saw Dayton’s potential, even when many of us struggled to see it ourselves," said Jeff Hoagland, Dayton Development Coalition president and CEO. "He spent decades cultivating that potential through his leadership in the business community, his engagement with entrepreneurs, and his vast philanthropic work."

Samantha Sommer is the news director for WYSO, where she leads a team of award-winning reporters and anchors and collaborates with NPR stations across Ohio. She joined the station in May 2022 after more than 20 years with Cox Enterprises, most recently as managing editor for investigations for the Dayton Daily News. Samantha also has served as the editor of the Springfield News-Sun, and Springfield bureau chief for WHIO TV and WHIO Radio. She is a Detroit native and a graduate of Northwestern University. Samantha is married with two adult stepchildren and a 4-year-old son.
Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO. Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.