George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Dies; Virginia Financier, Sportsman

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 9, 2005

George Lewis Ohrstrom Jr., 78, chairman of a private equity and leveraged-buyout firm and scion of one of the wealthiest families in Virginia, died of pneumonia Oct. 6 at his home in The Plains.

Mr. Ohrstrom was the long-time chairman of G.L. Ohrstrom & Co. The New York firm, founded by his father, is one of the private equity firms that started and grew three companies, Dover Corp., Carlisle Cos. and Roper Industries Inc., which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

A classmate of former president George H.W. Bush at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, Mr. Ohrstrom was an investor in President George W. Bush's Texas oil business, according to a 1999 article in The Washington Post. Virginia Business magazine, in its annual listing of the richest residents in the Old Dominion, said in 2004 that Mr. Ohrstrom was worth about $200 million.

In 1974, he sold his New York townhouse to Iraq for use as a residence for its ambassador to the United Nations.

Perhaps best known in the Washington area as a fox hunter, sportsman and philanthropist, Mr. Ohrstrom was a president of the Orange County Hunt and founder of the Bath County Hounds.

As a breeder and owner of thoroughbred and steeplechase horses, Mr. Ohrstrom raced many stakes winners in the United States and Europe, including France's 3-year-old champion filly, Comtesse De Loir, and grade 1 stakes winner Mossflower. He had a particular passion for timber racing, part of the steeplechase in which horses jump over large, freestanding wooden railed fences. An Orange County Hunt timber race is named for him.

As a founder of the Piedmont Environmental Council, he was an early supporter of the use of conservation easements to preserve open space. The council was a key opponent of the Walt Disney Co.'s attempt in the early 1990s to build a history theme park in Prince William County.

Mr. Ohrstrom was past chairman of the board of the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, the country's only scholarly repository dedicated exclusively to equine and field sports.

Born in Bronxville, N.Y., Mr. Ohrstrom grew up in Greenwich and entered the Marine Corps during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Princeton University, where he rowed bow on the crew team, which finished third in the 1948 Olympic trials. In 1949, Mr. Ohrstrom organized a team from the Princeton Cottage Club to compete in the Grand Challenge Cup at the Royal Henley Regatta in England. He later became a trustee of the Princeton University Rowing Association.

After college, he went to work for the State Department in France. He began his business career at Lehman Brothers from 1955 to 1960 and then worked at his father's firm. He became chief executive in 1960. According to his firm's Web site, he sat on the boards of FHP Holdings Inc., Tritex Corp., Leach Holding Corp., Vistan Corp. and Flexi-Mat Corp.

He was also president of the Ohrstrom Foundation Inc., established by his father in 1955, and was founder of the George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Foundation.

A son, Peter F.S. Ohrstrom, preceded him in death. Four of his marriages, to Joan Sumner, Lili Clarke, Sandra Wright and Pamela Braga, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Jacqueline Ohrstrom of The Plains; his sister, Magalen O. Bryant of Middleburg; a son from his first marriage, George F. Ohrstrom of New York; a son from his second marriage, Clarke Ohrstrom of The Plains; two children from his third marriage, Winifred O. Nichols of McLean and Wright Ohrstrom of New York; and five grandchildren.

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