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 William Edward Boeing

William Edward Boeing

Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, USA
Death 28 Sep 1956 (aged 74)
At Sea
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, Specifically: Scattered off the coast of BC Canada
Memorial ID 10969 · View Source
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Business Magnate, Aviation Pioneer. He was the founder of the Boeing Airplane Company, now the Boeing Aerospace Corporation. Born Wilhelm Edward Böing in Detroit, Michigan, he was the oldest of three children of well-to-do German immigrants who had made their fortune developing low-grade taconite iron ore for use in steel making and in timber marketing. His father died of influenza when young Wilhelm was just 8 years old, but he left behind an estate worth over $1 million dollars. His mother remarried, and young Wilhelm reportedly did not get along with his stepfather. He attended school for a year in Switzerland, and then returned to the United States to finish his education. Between 1899 and 1902, he studied at Yale University, but did not graduate. While attending Yale, he decided to anglicize his name to William Boeing. In 1903, he left college and moved to Grays Harbor, Washington, where he learned the logging business, beginning with timberlands that he inherited from his father's estate. Five years later, he moved to Seattle, Washington, and established the Greenwood Logging Company. In 1909, he observed his first heavier-than-air flying machine at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, and was fascinated with the idea of flying. The next year, he attended an aviation meeting in Los Angeles, California, learning more about aviation. In 1914, he met United States Navy aviator Lieutenant George Conrad Westervelt, who was looking into purchasing airplanes for Navy use; they would become close friends, and a year later, Westervelt and Boeing would fly around Seattle together. In 1915, Boeing became a pilot after completing the course of instruction at the Glenn Martin Flying School in Los Angeles, and upon completion, he purchased a Martin TA Biplane. Both Boeing and Westervelt felt that they were capable of building a better airplane together. In 1916, Boeing joined with Westervelt to form the Pacific Aero Products Company, building their first airplane, a biplane seaplane called the B&W (for Boeing and Westervelt) Model 1. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Boeing changed the company name to Boeing Airplane Company, and obtained an order to construct 50 training planes for the United States Navy. After the war, he concentrated on making commercial aircraft, and built a successful airmail delivery operation. Using his own airplane, Boeing delivered 60 letters from Vancouver to Seattle as part of the Canadian Exposition, becoming the first to deliver international airmail to the United States. In 1927, the Boeing Airplane Company won the bid to establish an airmail route between Chicago, Illinois and San Francisco, California. Two years later, the company changed its name to United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, reflecting its growing diversity in airlines, aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturing, and schools for training pilots and maintenance personnel. In 1934, the United States Government accused Boeing of monopolistic practices and violating the Air Mail Act. When the company was split into three independent companies, United Aircraft Corporation, United Air Lines and Boeing Aircraft Corporation, Boeing sold his stock, resigned as chairman, and retired. In 1934, he was awarded the Daniel Guggenheim Medal for aeronautical achievement. During World War II, he would return to act as a consultant to his own company, but spent the next 22 years in real estate development and animal breeding, establishing a cattle, sheep and horse farm northeast of Seattle and working to improve their health lines and raising the standards of beef stock. His airplane company would become a manufacturing giant in World War II. In 1954, he and his wife commissioned the Dash 80 airplane, which would become the Boeing 707, the first of a long line of successful Boeing commercial aircraft. In 1956, Boeing was aboard his yacht when he suffered a heart attack; he was pronounced dead upon the boat's arrival at the Seattle Yacht Club.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10969
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Edward Boeing (1 Oct 1881–28 Sep 1956), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10969, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea, who reports a Scattered off the coast of BC Canada.