Corporate leaders like Leonard J. Pieroni of Parsons Corp., who was killed in Wednesday's plane crash in Croatia, follow the American flag on a dual mission: to help developing countries, including those crushed by war, and concomitantly to search for business for their companies. The 57-year-old chief executive officer of the Pasadena engineering and construction firm was among business leaders traveling with Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown when their plane crashed in foul weather.
On his trip to Bosnia and Croatia, Pieroni spotted the need for rebuilding bridges, an opportunity well-suited for Parsons' engineers and an undertaking that would help knit together again a region torn by war. Like other American executives on the trip, he supported the efforts of Secretary Brown, whose message of "trade, not aid" helped open foreign doors to many U.S. businesses. The tragic end of Brown's last expedition should not mean the end of Commerce Department business delegations. They serve a useful national and commercial purpose.
Southern California mourns the Pieroni family's loss and that of his 10,000 fellow employees at Parsons. Pieroni rose through the ranks over the last 24 years to become chairman and chief executive officer in 1990. A native of Chicago, he lived in La Canada and was active in community affairs. He was on the board of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and was president-elect of the Boy Scouts' San Gabriel Valley chapter. He was named Industrialist of the Year in 1995 by the California Museum of Science and Industry.