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Walter Percy Chrysler
Chrysler
(April 2, 1875 – August 18, 1940) was an American automotive industry executive and founder of Chrysler Corporation, now a part of Fiat Chrysler
Chrysler
Automobiles.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Ancestry 3 Railroad career 4 Automotive career 5 Later years 6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links

Early life[edit] Chrysler
Chrysler
was born in Wamego, Kansas, the son of Anna Maria (née Breymann) and Henry Chrysler.[1] He grew up in Ellis, Kansas, where today his boyhood home is a museum. His father was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1850 and immigrated to the United States after 1858.[2] A Freemason,[3] Chrysler
Chrysler
began his career as a machinist and railroad mechanic in Ellis. He took correspondence courses from International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, Pennsylvania, earning a mechanical degree from the correspondence program. Ancestry[edit] Walter Chrysler's father, Henry (Hank) Chrysler, was a Canadian-American
Canadian-American
of German and Dutch ancestry. He was an American Civil War veteran who was a locomotive engineer for the Kansas Pacific Railway and its successor, the Union Pacific Railroad.[4] Walter's mother was born in Rocheport, Missouri, and was also of German ancestry.[5] Walter Chrysler
Chrysler
was not especially interested in his remote ancestors; his collaborative author Boyden Sparkes says that one genealogical researcher reported "that he had a sea-going Dutchman among his forebears; one Captain Jan Gerritsen Van Dalsen", but that "as to that, Walter Chrysler
Chrysler
made it plain to me he was in accord with Jimmy Durante: 'Ancestors? I got millions of 'em!'."[6] However, he thought enough of genealogy to include in his autobiography that his father, Hank Chrysler, "Canadian born, had been brought from Chatham, Ontario, to Kansas City when he was only five or six. His forebears had founded Chatham; the family stock was German; eight generations back of me there had come to America one who spelled his name Greisler, a German Palatine. He was one of a group of Protestants
Protestants
who had left their German homeland in the Rhine
Rhine
Valley, gone to the Netherlands, thence to England and embarked, finally, from Plymouth for New York." Other researchers have since traced his ancestors in more detail. Karin Holl's monograph on the subject[7] traces the family tree to a Johann Philipp Kreißler, born in 1672, who left Germany for America in 1709. Chrysler's ancestors came from the Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
town of Guntersblum. Railroad career[edit] Chrysler
Chrysler
apprenticed in the railroad shops at Ellis as a machinist and railroad mechanic. He then spent a period of years roaming the west, working for various railroads as a roundhouse mechanic with a reputation of being good at valve-setting jobs. Some of his moves were due to restlessness and a too-quick temper, but his roaming was also a way to become more well-rounded in his railroad knowledge. He worked his way up through positions such as foreman, superintendent, division master mechanic, and general master mechanic. From 1905–1906, Chrysler
Chrysler
worked for the Fort Worth and Denver Railway in Childress in West Texas. He later lived and worked in Oelwein, Iowa, at the main shops of the Chicago Great Western
Chicago Great Western
where there is a small park dedicated to him.[8][9] The pinnacle of his railroading career came at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he became works manager of the Allegheny locomotive erecting shops of the American Locomotive Company
American Locomotive Company
(ALCO). While working in Pittsburgh, Chrysler
Chrysler
lived in the town of Bellevue, the first town outside of Pittsburgh on the north side of the Ohio River. Automotive career[edit] Chrysler's automotive career began in 1911 when he received a summons to meet with James J. Storrow, a banker who was a director of Alco. Storrow asked him if he had given any thought to automobile manufacture. Chrysler
Chrysler
had been an auto enthusiast for over five years by then, and was very interested. Storrow arranged a meeting with Charles W. Nash, then president of the Buick
Buick
Motor Company, who was looking for a smart production chief. Chrysler, who had resigned from many railroading jobs over the years, made his final resignation from railroading to become works manager (in charge of production) at Buick in Flint, Michigan.[10] He found many ways to reduce the costs of production, such as putting an end to finishing automobile undercarriages with the same luxurious quality of finish that the body warranted. In 1916, William C. Durant, who founded General Motors
General Motors
in 1908, had retaken GM from bankers who had taken over the company. Chrysler, who was closely tied to the bankers, submitted his resignation to Durant, then based in New York City.

This plaque is located in the lobby of the Chrysler
Chrysler
Building

Durant took the first train to Flint to make an attempt to keep Chrysler
Chrysler
at the helm of Buick. Durant made the then-unheard of salary offer of US$10,000 (US$165,000 in today's dollars) a month for three years, with a US$500,000 bonus at the end of each year, or US$500,000 in stock. Additionally, Chrysler
Chrysler
would report directly to Durant, and would have full run of Buick
Buick
without interference from anyone. Apparently in shock, Chrysler
Chrysler
asked Durant to repeat the offer, which he did. Chrysler
Chrysler
immediately accepted. Chrysler
Chrysler
ran Buick
Buick
successfully for three more years. Not long after his three-year contract was up, he resigned from his job as president of Buick
Buick
in 1919. He did not agree with Durant's vision for the future of General Motors. Durant paid Chrysler
Chrysler
US$10 million for his GM stock. Chrysler
Chrysler
had started at Buick
Buick
in 1911 for US$6,000 a year, and left one of the richest men in America. GM replaced Chrysler
Chrysler
with Harry H. Bassett a protege who had risen through the ranks at the Weston-Mott axle manufacturing company, by then a subsidiary of Buick. Chrysler
Chrysler
was then hired to attempt a turnaround by bankers who foresaw the loss of their investment in Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. He demanded, and received, a salary of US$1 million a year for two years, an astonishing amount at that time. When Chrysler left Willys
Willys
in 1921 after an unsuccessful attempt to wrestle control from John Willys, he acquired a controlling interest in the ailing Maxwell Motor Company. Chrysler
Chrysler
phased out Maxwell and absorbed it into his new firm, the Chrysler
Chrysler
Corporation, in Detroit, Michigan, in 1925. In addition to his namesake car company, Plymouth
Plymouth
and DeSoto marques were created, and in 1928 Chrysler
Chrysler
purchased Dodge. The same year he financed the construction of the Chrysler
Chrysler
Building in New York City, which was completed in 1930. Chrysler
Chrysler
was named Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1928.[11] He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame
Automotive Hall of Fame
in 1967.[12] Later years[edit]

The mausoleum of Walter Chrysler
Chrysler
in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

In 1923, Chrysler
Chrysler
purchased a twelve-acre waterfront estate at Kings Point on Long Island, New York [13] from Henri Willis Bendel
Henri Willis Bendel
and renamed it "Forker House." In December 1941, the property was sold to the U.S. government's War Shipping Department and became known as Wiley Hall as part of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.[14] He also built a country estate in Warrenton, Virginia, in what is referred to as the Virginia
Virginia
horse country and home to the Warrenton Hunt. In 1934, he purchased and undertook a major restoration of the famous Fauquier White Sulphur Springs Company resort and spa in Warrenton. Sold in 1953, the property was developed as a country club, which it remains today. On the estate he inherited, Walter P. Chrysler
Chrysler
Jr. established North Wales Stud for the purpose of breeding Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred
horses. Chrysler, Jr. was part of a syndicate that included friend Alfred G. Vanderbilt II who in 1940 acquired the 1935 English Triple Crown winner Bahram from the Aga Khan III. Bahram stood at stud at Vanderbilt's Sagamore Farm in Maryland
Maryland
then was brought to Chrysler's North Wales Stud. Chrysler
Chrysler
turned 56 in the spring of 1936 and decided to step down from an active role in the day-to-day business of the company. Two years later, Della died at the age of 58 and Walter, devastated at the loss of his childhood sweetheart, suffered a stroke. His previously robust health never recovered from this, and he succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage in August 1940 at Forker House. He was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. See also[edit]

Carl Breer Owen Ray Skelton Frederick Morrell Zeder The Three Musketeers (Studebaker engineers)

References[edit]

^ http://www.wargs.com/political/dole.html ^ Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, p14 ^ Denslow 2004, p. 211. ^ Chrysler
Chrysler
1950, pp. 18–19. ^ Chrysler
Chrysler
1950, pp. 14, 23. ^ Chrysler
Chrysler
1950, p. 206. ^ Holl 1984 ^ "Oelwein Municipal Parks". City of Oelwein Online. Retrieved April 15, 2011.  ^ "Person of the Year 1929 – Walter P. Chrysler". Time. January 7, 1929. Archived from the original on January 27, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2011.  ^ Chrysler
Chrysler
1950, pp. 123–127. ^ The original TIME article (This was the first cover of Time to be published in full color.) ^ "Walter P. Chrysler". Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 6, 2016.  ^ Google Earth image of the Chrysler
Chrysler
Estate ^ US Merchant Marine Academy

Bibliography[edit]

Chrysler, Walter P.; Sparkes, Boyden (1950) [1937], Life of an American Workman, New York, NY, USA: Dodd, Mead & Company, LCCN 38009829. First printed as a serialization in the Saturday Evening Post, 1937, and privately printed in book form that year. Later republished in 1950 by Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, with a new postscript by collaborative author Boyden Sparkes.  Curcio, Vincent (2000), Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-507896-1.  Denslow, William R. (2004) [1957], 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Part One, Volume 1, from A to J (Paperback republication ed.), Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4179-7578-5. Foreword by Harry S. Truman.  Holl, Karin (1984), "Walter P. Chrysler, his German roots [German title: Kreißler-Chrysler, eine Auswanderungsgeschichte. Written in English and German.]", Schatzungsregister des kurpfälzischen Oberamtes Stromberg, 1683 und 1722, Ludwigshafen am Rhein: Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Pfälzisch-Rheinische Familienkunde e.V., 22, ISSN 0171-1512, archived from the original on 2009-10-27, retrieved 2010-08-08 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walter Chrysler.

Works by Walter P. Chrysler
Chrysler
at Faded Page (Canada) Photo of the Bendel Estate at Kings Point "The Man Who Bet His Dreams", Popular Mechanics, August 1932, pp. 194–198 Walter Chrysler
Chrysler
at Find a Grave

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 57438210 LCCN: nr95026107 ISNI: 0000 0001 0904 901X GND: 120156806 BNF: cb115515015 (data) NDL: 00520712 SN

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