Daniel Carasso – whose father named Danone yogurt after him in 1919, and who set up the brand in France 10 years later – died May 17 at 103.

Carasso, born in 1905, went on to set up Dannon in the United States, expand in countries including Mexico, Brazil and Morocco, and see through two key mergers. And as honorary chairman of the group, he took part in celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of the Danone brand earlier this year.

“We all know how much our group, which carries his first name, owes to Daniel Carasso, who dedicated all his boundless energy and optimism to its success ever since 1929,” Groupe Danone CEO Franck Riboud said in a statement.

Carasso’s father, Isaac, started selling yogurt with cultures from France’s Pasteur Institute in pharmacies and on doctors’ recommendations in Spain after World War I, taking the Catalan diminutive of Daniel – Danon – and adding an "e" to get around authorities that wouldn’t register a proper name.

Four years later, in 1923, Isaac sent his son to Marseille to study business. Carasso subsequently attended the Pasteur Institute and in 1929 set up the Societé Parisienne du Yoghourt in Paris.

Danone merged with fromage frais company, Gervais, in 1967 to create Gervais-Danone. But the turning point came when Carasso met Franck Riboud’s father, Antoine, head of BSN Group, in 1972. A year later, the pair merged BSN and Gervais-Danone. Thirty years after the merger, Carasso commented that the creation of the larger group had been “the crowning reward for a lifetime of efforts.”