Reginald H. Jones, 86, who led General Electric through the energy crisis of the 1970s and advised four presidents on economic policy, died Tuesday in Greenwich, Conn., after a long illness.
Jones served as GE's chairman and chief executive from 1972 to 1981, before picking Jack Welch to be his successor.
"Reg was a great man, a great leader, a great teacher, a quintessential business statesman and a true friend," Welch, who considered Jones his mentor, said in a statement.
Jones was born in England and moved to the States with his parents at the age of 8. His father, an electrician, settled the family in New Jersey. Reginald Jones graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939 and soon joined GE.
He became the firm's chief financial officer in 1968 and was elected senior vice president two years later. Under his leadership, the company's sales more than doubled -- to $22 billion -- and earnings grew from $572 million to $1.4 billion.