The death has occurred of Donald E. Panoz, the founder of Elan Corporation, a company that became synonymous with Athlone.
Don and his wife Nancy moved to Ireland to establish the company in the late 1960s and were based in Athlone from 1979 to 1995, living for much of that time in the restored 16th century Moyvannan Castle in Kiltoom.
An entrepreneur, business man, family man and husband, he passed away, aged 83, peacefully, in the early hours of morning, Tuesday September 11, at his home in Duluth, Georgia, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
Don Panoz was born in Ohio in 1935, son of Eugenio Panunzio, a first-generation American who enjoyed success as a professional boxer, changing the family name to Panoz to better fit on the back of his robe.
Don Panoz served in the military and began his first pharmaceutical corporation in 1960.
He sold the company and by the end of the 1960s, moved to Ireland to establish a new business based on developing new drug delivery technologies. The new company became known as Elan Corporation. It established a new R&D centre in Athlone in 1978.
In 1985, the company opened a new Institute of Biopharmaceuticals in Athlone and also built its first manufacturing facility in the town.
Elan pictured in the early 2000s in Athlone.
During 1990, Elan became the first Irish company to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange, while at the same time the company added listings on the Irish and London stock exchanges.
In 2011, Elan Drug Technologies and Alkermes merged under a new holding company, Alkermes plc, which now operates in Athlone.
On his return to the US in the 1980s, he ventured into the winery, golf and resort industries and he also became a significant player in the US motorsports industry, through Panoz Sports Cars.
A statement on the panoz.com website, said: “From the military, to the pharmaceutical industry; from the winery, golf and resort industry through to automotive, motorsports and manufacturing, Panoz has left an imprint of advancing technologies and producing outcomes no one would have thought possible
“In addition to all the career, business and work achievements, Panoz was a family man, a comedian, an inspiration, a philanthropist, an innovator, a visionary and most importantly a wonderfully entertaining human to be around.”
He was honoured with the award of a Distinguised Fellowship by AIT in 2011 and was also recognised with a civic reception by the then Athlone Urban District Council in 2008.
Senator Gabrielle McFadden expressed her sadness on hearing of the death of Don Panoz. She said he made Athlone his real home and raised his family here.
“He was a loyal friend to Athlone and his passing away yesterday, at the age of 83, is a source of sadness for us all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”