Former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico died doing what he loved best, according to his longtime friend and business partner Burns Rutty.
Mr. Rutty said he was shocked and saddened by the death of the business leader, who was dubbed the “Cola King” for his success with Pepsi in the 1980s.
“The only consolation is that he died doing what he enjoyed doing most,” Comfort Suites hotel owner Mr. Rutty told the Cayman Compass on Friday.
“He loved the water, he loved to snorkel and scuba dive,” he said. “He had dived all over the world, but his favorite place was the Cayman Islands.”
Mr. Enrico, an investor in the hotel when it opened, was on a snorkeling trip in the North Sound with Mr. Rutty’s partner and another couple last Wednesday afternoon when the incident happened.
Mr. Rutty said the 71-year-old had a history of health problems and apparently suffered a stroke or heart attack in the water.
“Roger was very comfortable in the water, he didn’t get into any difficulties snorkeling,” said Mr. Rutty.
He said his partner had struggled against the current to pull him back to the boat where another friend attempted to revive him through CPR.
He said she had noticed Mr. Enrico had been going against the current and she swam out with a life ring to assist. When she reached him, he was not conscious.
“She did everything she could. She tried her best to save him. She’s a very tough girl and she was pretty exhausted herself,” he said.
Mr. Rutty said he was unable to be on the boat trip, but he had planned to join the group for dinner at the Italian Kitchen on Wednesday night.
“When they called to tell me Roger had died, I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was having a nightmare,” said Mr. Rutty.
He said he first got to know Mr. Enrico more than 25 years ago through another Pepsi executive, Alan Pottasch, who had a home in East End.
He said they had become great friends and traveled together frequently, including on diving trips to Cuba.
“He loved to dive; he would dive almost every day when he was down here,” he added.
When Mr. Rutty opened the Comfort Suites hotel in 2000, both Mr. Enrico and Mr. Pottasch, who is deceased, were involved in the venture.
“He was a very intelligent man, great conversation and very successful in business,” said Mr. Rutty.
“He was the man who made Pepsi what it is today. He bought Gatorade and Tropicana orange juice, he started the Aquafina water business. Under him, the company went up and up and up.”
Along with Mr. Pottasch, Mr. Enrico is credited with some of Pepsi’s most iconic ad campaigns, involving celebrities like Michael Jackson and Madonna. He was labeled the “Cola King” during the 1980s for his success in elevating the Pepsi brand to compete with Coca Cola.