Ray Groves passed on Wednesday, May 3 at the age of 87. A beloved husband and father, he is survived by his spouse of 61 years, Anne, his three sons, Phil, Matt, and Dave, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. His daughter, Elizabeth, and his parents, Gordon and Helen, preceded him in death.
Ray was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 7, 1935, graduating from East Tech High School in 1953. Upon graduation from his beloved Ohio State University summa cum laude in 1957, Ray joined the accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst in Cleveland. He became the youngest partner in firm history in 1966, at age 31. Ray served as Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Ernst beginning in 1977, at age 42, leading that firm through two pivotal mergers, with the NYC firm S. D. Leidesdorf & Co. in 1978, and then with English firm Whinney Murray & Co. in 1979, to form Ernst & Whinney. Upon the merger between Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young to create Ernst & Young (EY) in 1989, Ray served as Co-Chief Executive Officer and then Chairman and CEO of EY until his retirement in 1994 as the longest-serving CEO of a Big 8/Big 4 professional services firm in history.
He played a key role in leading the profession through a period of great change and development in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ray was a visionary, swiftly leading E&E’s transformation from a powerhouse across the midwestern US to the market-leading global professional services firm it became. Ray’s greatest professional legacy was his partnership with his eventual Co-CEO, Bill Gladstone, to architect the most important, groundbreaking merger in the history of the accounting profession. At the time of the merger between Ernst & Whinney and Arthur Young in 1989, Ernst & Young was the largest professional services firm in the world, with 70,000 professionals, including 2,100 partners, in more than 100 countries. Ray’s almost peerless commitment to quality was essential as the firm navigated through the savings and loan industry collapse soon after the merger while setting the tone for the firm’s future growth and expansion.
Throughout his career, Ray demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the advancement of the profession. This manifested itself in various ways, including service as the Chairman of the AICPA while strengthening the Institute’s relationship with the SEC, the Board of Governors of both the NASD and the American Stock Exchange, numerous committees of the SEC, all of which led to his election to the Accounting Hall of Fame in 1999. Following Ray’s retirement from EY, his legacy of leadership continued, as he served as Chairman of Legg Mason Merchant Banking and as President, Chairman and Senior Advisor at global insurer Marsh, in addition to serving on many high-profile corporate boards of directors, such as RJR Nabisco, EDS, Boston Scientific, Gillette, and Marsh McLennan.
Ray’s passion for and commitment to higher learning was a constant, and he devoted many years of dedicated service not only to his beloved OSU but to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and to the American Accounting Association, the leading association of accounting faculty. An avid reader and hunter, Ray also loved and supported the opera. Those who knew Ray best describe him as a bold visionary, an exceptional leader and team builder, a superb communicator and better listener and, perhaps most accurately, a loyal and committed friend and partner.
He exhibited these same qualities even moreso with his family. His children and grandchildren have sought to follow his examples of hard work, achievement, honesty, and generosity. He will be dearly missed.
The family will hold a celebration of life next month in New York City, and this page will be updated with the details. Memories and well wishes may also be posted on this site. No flowers please, but cards may be mailed c/o Groves Law, LLC, 281 S. Pearl St., Denver, CO 80209.
A celebration of life in memory of Ray Groves
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
One Manhattan West – 48th floor
401 9th Ave
New York, NY 10001