1977 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Multiply flexibility with determination and knowledge."
Born in New York's East Bronx, Mahoney was the son of an Irish immigrant who worked as a crane operator. During the Depression, when work was hard to find, Mahoney sold newspapers to help with the family finances.
A scholarship of $10 a month enabled Mahoney to attend Cathedral High School, a private school in Manhattan. Later, he was awarded a scholarship to LaSalle Military Academy. A good baseball and basketball player, he won an athletic scholarship to the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He interrupted his studies to serve in World War II. When he returned, he continued his studies at Wharton at night and worked during the week days at a New York ad agency. When he completed his degree less than three years later, he was a vice president at the agency and was supervising some of its key accounts.
Two years later, Mahoney left his comfortable $25,000-a-year ad agency job to form his own firm, established with a $10,000 bank loan. The young agency attracted some excellent clients, among them the Good Humor Corporation. Five years later, Mahoney sold his agency for $500,000 and assumed the presidency of Good Humor. There, he increased sales and profits dramatically. In another five years, he joined Colgate-Palmolive as executive vice president of the firm's domestic operations. Four years later, in 1966, he was recruited by Norton Simon to head Canada Dry, which was controlled by Hunt Foods & Industries.
Within two years, Norton Simon, Inc., was created by a merger of Hunt Foods & Industries, the McCall Corporation, and Canada Dry. Mahoney was named president and chief operating officer. A year later, he emerged as chief executive officer. When Simon retired at the end of 1969, Mahoney became president and chairman.
By 1977, when Mahoney was honored by the Horatio Alger Association, Norton Simon was a major international consumer products marketing company. In 1983, he left the firm to head his own investment company, David Mahoney Ventures, as well as the Churchill Trust Company.
Mahoney had a lifelong commitment to health and medical research. In 1983, he endowed the David Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1990, he established the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute. He also served as chairman and CEO of the Charles A. Dana Foundation and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.* Deceased