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Andrew McNally III, 92; Directed Growth of Map Maker, Publisher


Andrew McNally III, who led Rand McNally & Co., one of the world's best-known map makers, through its largest period of 20th century growth, died Thursday in Chicago. He was 92, and the family attributed his death to natural causes.

The great-grandson of the firm's co-founder, McNally succeeded his father, Andrew McNally II, as president of the company in 1948.

The firm was looking for ways to diversify, and one of McNally's first moves was to buy the W.B. Conkey Co., one of the nation's largest book manufacturing plants.

Rand McNally had published children's books during the war, including titles by the well-known author Marguerite Henry, and expanded into the adult market in 1947 with the publication of "Kon Tiki," written by the then relatively unknown Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl. But the purchase of Conkey allowed the firm greater access to the book market. Over the years, it made substantial income in reference and general interest books.

In just six years under McNally's leadership, sales volume increased from $8.3 million to more than $18.5 million. He also oversaw the firm's relocation in 1952 from downtown Chicago to its current facility in suburban Skokie, Ill.

The son of Andrew and Eleanor McNally was born in Chicago on Aug. 17, 1909. He attended the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., and later Yale University.

Of his education, McNally once told a reporter that, while he enjoyed studying music in school, he felt a career in the family firm was "practically preordained."

So after graduating from Yale in 1931, McNally began working in the family business in various jobs, including production clerk in the Chicago plant. In 1933, he was made a vice president and director of the sales office in New York City.

McNally joined the Army Corps of Engineers soon after the start of World War II, supervising the production of battlefield maps.

Discharged with the rank of captain, McNally returned to the family firm after the war and began producing maps reflecting the great changes that had taken place in the world since the defeat of the Axis powers.

After succeeding his father in 1948, McNally ran the firm as president until 1974, when he was named chairman of the board, a post he held until 1993.

His eldest son, Andrew McNally IV, succeeded him as president and, later, as chairman. The firm was purchased by AEA, a New York-based investment firm, in the late 1990s.

Among his many civic activities, Andrew McNally III was a past president and life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago; past president and life trustee of the Chicago Historical Society; past president and director of the Geographic Society of Chicago; trustee of the Newberry Library; and director of The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, N.Y.

McNally's wife of 45 years, Margaret, died in 1982.

In addition to his son Andrew, McNally is survived by his daughter, "Betsy" Ravenel; another son, Edward C. McNally; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at St. Chrysostom's Church in Chicago. Donations in his name may be made to The Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., Clayton, N.Y. 13624.

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