Businessman, Inventor Was President Nixon’s Friend

NEW CANAAN, CT—Robert H. Abplanalp, a major sponsor of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute, died August 30 at his home in Bronxville, NY. He was 81 years old and had cancer.

Mr. Abplanalp was chairman of Precision Valve Corporation, a worldwide operation headquartered in Yonkers, NY, with manufacturing facilities in 20 countries. The company produces four billion valves a year and holds 300 aerosol-related patents. Mr. Abplanalp was a longtime business associate of H.R. Shepherd of New Canaan, former chairman and CEO of Aerosol Techniques Inc., which became Armstrong Laboratories. When Dr. and Mrs. Shepherd founded the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute in 1993, Mr. Abplanalp became one of its main sources of encouragement and support.

Mr. Abplanalp was also known as one of President Richard M. Nixon’s closest friends, providing emotional and financial support to Nixon before, during and after his presidency.

He and Nixon became friends after Nixon’s loss in the 1960 presidential race and the 1962 California gubernatorial race. Mr. Abplanalp approached Nixon and offered his support, then retained the future president’s law firm for handling his company’s overseas legal affairs.

During his years in the White House, Nixon vacationed at Walker’s Cay, Mr. Abplanalp’s private 125-acre island in the Bahamas. While sojourning there in 1969, President Nixon made the decision to initiate Cancer Control Month, leading to his declaration of War on Cancer.

Because of this historical connection, Mr. Abplanalp invited the Sabin Institute to hold its annual cancer vaccine colloquium at Walker’s Cay. The fifth such meeting was held this past March.

In July of this year he made available his property at the Eldred Preserve, a retreat in upstate New York, for the first meeting of the Sabin Institute’s Cancer Vaccine Consortium.

Mr. Abplanalp has served every year as a member of the Benefit Committee for the Sabin Awards Celebration, the Institute’s annual gala dinner.

When asked about Mr. Abplanalp’s death, Dr. Shepherd said, “He was an extraordinary individual, and his patience and ability to listen will be missed but never forgotten.”

The mission of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute is to save lives by stimulating development of new vaccines and increasing immunization rates throughout the world. Founded in 1993, the Institute pursues Dr. Albert Sabin’s vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines.