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George Jacob Kuhrts, I
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Birth: Jun. 10, 1869
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Death: Apr. 1, 1932
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Los Angeles Railway President Dies Suddenly

LOS ANGELES, April 1, 1932 - George J. Kuhrts, 63, president of the Los Angeles Railway Company, died at his desk in the Los Angeles Railway building today of a blood clot on the brain. He was in conference with other railway officials when he collapsed.

- The Fresno Bee and The Fresno Republican; Fresno, California, April 1, 1932; Page One.
Long identified with the operation of the Los Angeles Railway in an executive capacity, George Jacob Kuhrts was its president and manager at the time of his death and was one of the most widely known transportation men and engineers in the west. A member of an honored pioneer family of Los Angeles, he devoted his life and the full service of a finely tempered mind to this, his native city. He was born in the old Kuhrts homestead, a two-story brick building, at the northwest corner of First and Main streets on January 10, 1869, a son of Jacob and Susan (Buhn) Kuhrts. The father immigrated to America from Germany and came to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. He cast in his lot with the early settlers of Los Angeles when it was practically an adobe town and he was one of the first councilmen of the city. For forty years he was connected with the fire department, and was also street superintendent. In 1865 in the Old United States Hotel at the southeast corner of Requena and Main streets, he was united in marriage with Miss Buhn, who had made the long journey to Los Angeles from southern Germany in 1861, when she was a girl of thirteen. She came via the Isthmus of Panama, which she crossed by rail and mule back. Besides George J. the other children were: Emelie, Mrs. John P. Krempel, now deceased; Grace E., wife of George E. Karstens; and Edward W. Kuhrts.

George J. Kuhrts received his education in the Los Angeles city schools, and his first work was in the office of the city engineer. It was while thus employed with the surveying crews that he decided to become an engineer. Three years later he joined the maintenance of way forces of the Southern Pacific Railway in Arizona. His natural bent for engineering and the experience thus gained enabled him to qualify for the post of assistant engineer of the City of Los Angeles in 1892. While in the service of the municipality he made the original survey and was the engineer in charge of the construction of the first outfall sewer built for the city, which is known as the Hyperion outfall sewer. He was only twenty-four years of age at the time.

In 1895 Mr. Kuhrts was made assistant chief engineer of the Los Angeles and Pasadena Electric Railway and the Pasadena and Pacific Railway, so continuing until 1898, when he became personal engineer for H. E. Huntington, pioneer railroad builder, who was then engaged in the task of consolidating the various electric lines in the city under the name of the Los Angeles Railway. Capable and trustworthy, Mr. Kuhrts steadily advanced, becoming chief engineer of the Los Angeles Railway in 1902 and assistant general manager in 1916. Two years later he was elected a director of the company, assuming the duties of general manager at that time and in 1920 was entrusted with the responsibilities of vice president. In 1927 upon the death of Henry E. Huntington, owner and president of the railway, Mr. Kuhrts succeeded him in that office and controlled the destiny of the Los Angeles Railway Corporation until his death on April 1, 1932, administering its affairs with conspicuous success. In addition to serving on the directorate of that corporation, he was a director of the City Railway Company of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Railway Corporation, the Los Angeles Railway Company and the Rodeo Land and Water Company.

Mr. Kuhrts' home life was ideal. His marriage with Miss Myra H. Bennett was solemnized on June 28, 1893, in the old St. John's Church on Adams Street, and they were the parents of three children: George J., Jr., of Hollywood, owner and president of the Standard Steel Works, who married Clara Barton Bergh, by whom four children have been born, Charlotte Ann, George J. III, Patricia Lou and ClaraLee; Sue K., who married Phillips Murray and is the mother of a daughter, Georgia Myra, and resides in Beverly Hills; and Jack Gordon Kuhrts, of Beverly Hills, who is engaged in the insurance business.

Mr. Kuhrts' deep love for his city was shown by actual achievements in its behalf. He was liberal to a fault and his benefactions were many and far-reaching, for he never recognized sex, creed or condition, but gave to all whom he felt needed assistance. Of him it was said: "His contributions towards solving the transportation problems of Los Angeles, at a period when its growth was the most phenomenal in American history, and the difficulties encountered, consequently of unprecedented magnitude, have conferred on him a mark of special distinction among constructional engineers of the west." Mr. Kuhrts was a patron of the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association, the Los Angeles Museum Association, the Southwest Museum and other civic and charitable organizations and was widely known for his philanthropies. In the work of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce he took an important part and was one of the most progressive members of that civic body. He was a member of the California Club, the Los Angeles Country Club, the Recreation Gun Club, the Tuna Club, the City Club, the Los Angeles Railway Square and Compass Club, the Turn Verein, and was a life member of Ramona Parlor, No. 49, Native Sons of the Golden West. His Masonic affiliations were with the Henry S. Orme Lodge, F. & A. M., the Royal Arch Chapter, Los Angeles Consistory, No. 3, and Al Malaikah Temple A. A. O. N. M. S. Along the lines of his profession he was a member of the National and the Los Angeles Chapters of the American Association of Engineers; at the time of his death he was a member of the executive board of the American Electric Railway Association; has served as president of the California Electric Railway Association and was on the executive committee at the time of his death. He was deeply interested in California history and was a member of the Los Angeles County Pioneer Society.

Ever just, considerate and sympathetic, Mr. Kuhrts did all in his power to promote the welfare of those who worked for him and was chairman of the board of administration of the Los Angeles Railway Employees Provident Fund. In rising to distinction and power Mr. Kuhrts never crushed, pushed aside or humbled his associates, but carried them along with him. His career of notable achievements and marked usefulness was abruptly terminated in his sixty-fourth year, when he was in the full flush of his powers, and his unexpected death brought deep sorrow to those who were privileged to know him, for he was liberally endowed with those qualities which endear a man to his fellows. The funeral services were conducted at St. John's Episcopal Church by the Rev. George Davidson. The esteem in which Mr. Kuhrts was held was expressed in beautiful floral offerings which filled the church and lined the walks in front of it and in the large number of people from every walk of life who came to pay their last tribute to him. During the long period of his administration of the Los Angeles Railway he won the love and esteem of all employees, who mourned his passing as the loss of a friend. Under the caption of "Our Beloved Chief" the following tribute appeared in the April (1932) issue of Two Bells, a magazine published monthly by the employees of the Los Angeles Railway:

"George J. Kuhrts, our beloved chief, has left his desk forever. Our good friend, our kindly counselor, he who was so tolerant of our faults, so eager to give every man his due and more, has gone away. How we shall miss him in the days and years to come!

George Kuhrts loved people and his rugged, forceful character and personal charm drew men close to him in real affection and secured to him a deep and abiding loyalty. His philosophy of life was simple faith in the innate goodness and decency of human nature. He shrank from giving another hurt, and few ever heard criticism of another from his lips.

Democratic in his habits and extremely modest, he never lost the common touch and was always accessible to even the humblest. He was quick in his understanding of the problems of others and never happier than when able to help someone out of difficulties. He was generous to a fault.

George Kuhrts was a big man physically and mentally, an able executive and one of the community's finest citizens. He started humbly and climbed to eminence through ability. He bore his heavy responsibilities with courage and was always just to others.

Those of us who worked for him and with him will always remember him with admiration and warm affection. We grieve that he had to go away, because we loved him, but his work was done – God called him home."

On page three of the magazine is a photograph of Mr. Kuhrts and beneath it is the following poem, written by James Whitcomb Riley:

He Is Just Away

I cannot say and I will not say
That he is dead—he is just away!
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you—O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return—
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;
Think of him still as the same, I say,
He is not dead—he is just away.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 5-9, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.

see also: Two Bells Publication

Family links: 
  Jacob Kuhrts (1832 - 1926)
  Susan Buhn Kuhrts (1848 - 1929)
  Myra H Bennett Kuhrts (1871 - 1955)
  George Jacob Kuhrts (1895 - 1955)*
  Sue M Kuhrts Murray (1899 - 1980)*
  Jacob G Kuhrts (1901 - ____)*
  Emily Kuhrts Krempel*
  George Jacob Kuhrts (1869 - 1932)
  Henry W Kuhrts (1883 - 1969)*
  Grace Kuhrts Karstens (1884 - 1985)*
  Edward William Kuhrts (1889 - 1956)*
*Calculated relationship
Inglewood Park Cemetery
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Created by: Pat McArron
Record added: Nov 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 61302241
George Jacob Kuhrts, I
Added by: Pat McArron
George Jacob Kuhrts, I
Added by: Pat McArron
George Jacob Kuhrts, I
Cemetery Photo
Added by: James Seidelman
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

- dm wms
 Added: Nov. 9, 2012

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