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ALS forces Cat officer into early retirement

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Ed Rapp, a group president at Caterpillar Inc. since 2007, announced Friday he will retire earlier than he’d planned after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Rapp, 57, will retire early in 2016, after his replacement is named to ensure a smooth transition. He currently is responsible for Caterpillar’s Resource Industries, which includes mining, taking it over in January of this year.

The company said it will name Rapp’s replacement early next year.

Rapp was already being discussed as a possible heir to the chairmanship at Caterpillar after current chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman retires. Oberhelman will be 63 in February and the mandatory retirement age for officers at Caterpillar is 65.

"Early retirement was not part of my plan," Rapp said. "But I have recently been diagnosed with ALS – better known as Lou Gehrig's disease – a disease that currently has no known cure. My decision to leave Caterpillar and its people was the toughest choice I have ever faced. I love Caterpillar, especially the people I get to work with at all levels of the company, including dealers, suppliers and customers. But, I have a new challenge in front of me and, along with my family, I will now turn my focus and attention to the next chapter in life, which will include fighting the disease, raising awareness and supporting those in search of a cure."

"The entire Caterpillar family, its employees, dealers, customers, suppliers and others who have had the opportunity to get to know Ed during his career – everyone he has touched – will be keeping him and his family in their thoughts and prayers," said Oberhelman said in a news release.

"I have had the honor of working with Ed for more than 30 years, and I can't think of another leader who better exemplifies Caterpillar's values and who has had such a positive impact on our global employees. Personally, and for the company, Ed's deep and broad Caterpillar experience, thoughtful leadership and guidance will be deeply missed," he said.     

Rapp has been with Caterpillar for 36-plus years, joining the company in 1979 as a pricing analyst. He has held positions in several of the company’s divisions

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).