Birthday: July 8, 1907
Died At Age: 88
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: George Wilcken Romney
Born Country: Mexico
Born in: Colonia Dublán, Mexico
Famous as: 43rd Governor of Michigan
Spouse/Ex-: Lenore LaFount (m. 1931)
father: Gaskell Romney
mother: Anna Amelia Romney
children: Jane Romney, Lynn Keenan, Margo Lynn Romney, Mitt Romney, Scott Romney
Died on: July 26, 1995
place of death: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
Who was George W. Romney?
George W. Romney was a Republican Party politician who became the 43rd Governor of Michigan. He was also a successful businessman. Beginning his life in a Mormon colony in Mexico, he moved with his family to the USA at age of five, displaced by the ongoing Mexican Revolution. Thereafter, he traveled with his family from place to place, studying in different schools, working since the age of eleven. Considered an autodidact, he attended a number of universities, but accumulated only 2½ years of credits and did not graduate. He began his career under Senator David I, Walsh, where he learned a lot about politics. But very soon, he established himself as successful businessman, working first with the Alcoa and then with Automobile Manufacturers Association and finally as the chairman and president of the American Motors Corporation. In 1961–1962, he entered politics, participating in a state constitutional convention to rewrite the Michigan Constitution, eventually being elected to the post of Governor. He spent his retired life promoting volunteerism.
Childhood & Early Life
George Wilcken Romney was born on July 8, 1907 in Colonia Dublán, a Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico, to Gaskell Romney and Anna Amelia nee Pratt.
Born as the fourth of his parents’ seven children, George had three elder brothers, namely, Gaskell Maurice Romney, Douglas Pratt Romney and Miles Pratt Romney. He also had two younger brothers; Lawrence Romney and Charles Wilcken Romney; and one sister named Meryl Ward.
As the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, the Romney family began to feel threatened. Eventually in July 1912, they returned to the USA, leaving their entire property behind, initially taking refuge in Texas.
From late 1912 till 1917, he moved with his family from place to place, changing six schools by the time he reached his sixth grade. Finally, they settled down in the Salt Lake City, where in 1925, he graduated from Latter-day Saints High School and entered Latter-day Saints University.
In October 1926, he sailed for Great Britain as a Mormon missionary. Here he was assigned to preach in Glasgow, Scotland; but failed to make a single conversion. Eventually in late 1928, he returned to the US. Thereafter, he studied briefly at the University of Utah and LDS Business College.
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In the fall of 1929, George W. Romney moved to Washington D.C, where he found employment with Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator David I. Walsh, serving him until June 1930, gaining valuable experience in the process. Concurrently he also attended night classes at George Washington University.
In June 1930, he was hired by Alcoa Corporation first as an apprentice and later as a lobbyist, serving in this capacity for nine years. Thereafter in 1939, as his career at Alcoa began to stagnate, he joined American Automobile Manufacturers Association as a manager of their Detroit office.
As Second World War began to rage, he quickly gained in importance, becoming famous for his contribution to the war production, being mentioned or quoted in The New York Times in over 80 stories. Very soon, he was holding other important positions and began to be considered a rising star.
In 1948, he left Automobile Manufacturers Association to join Nash Kelvinator at the invitation of its Chairman, Mason. For the next six years, he moved around constantly, learning “the business ground up”.
On 1st May 1954, Nash Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Romney was appointed its executive Vice President. Late in the same year, as the Chairman of the company died, he was named its President and the Chairman of the Board.
Although initially AMC suffered losses, it began to show profit from 1958. Very soon, the company’s stock rose from $7 per share to $90 per share; Romney a millionaire as a result of his stock options.
In February 1962, George W. Romney took an indefinite leave of absence from AMC to enter electoral politics. Standing as a Republican candidate for the post of the Governor of Michigan, he won the election with 80000 votes.
On January 1, 1963, he was sworn in as the 43rd Governor of Michigan, holding the position till January 22, 1969, meanwhile being reelected for the same post in 1964 and 1966. Very soon, his success as the Governor of Michigan thrust him to the forefront of national Republicans.
In November 1967, he declared his candidature for Republican nomination in 1968 Presidential election. But due to various reasons, which included his lack of expertise in foreign affairs, he lost to Richard Nixon, who went on to become the 37th president of the United States.
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On becoming President, Nixon appointed Romney, whom he trusted very little, as the 3rd United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. His main intention was to confine Romney in a low profile job so that he would not be able challenge him in the 1972 Presidential election.
Romney’s appointment was confirmed on January 22, 1969. On the same day he resigned from his governorship and began to concentrate at his new job as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, reorganizing and expanding the department, taking several initiatives to improve low cost housing.
From the beginning, he was outside Nixon’s inner circle and had little influence in its working. Very soon differences arouse between the two men with Nixon trying to remove him from his post by hook and crook.
On January 20, 1973, after Nixon was reelected as the US President, Romney tendered his resignation. Thereafter, he began a life of public service. He worked to promote volunteerism and remained largely outside politics until his death in 1995.
Family & Personal Life
On 2 July 1931, Romney married his childhood sweetheart, Lenore LaFount. Initially an aspiring actress, she later entered politics. The couple had four children: Margo Lynn, Jane LaFount, George Scott, and Willard Mitt. Mitt would later become Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election.
On July 26, 1995, George Romney died of a heart attack while he was exercising on his treadmill at their home in Bloomfield Hills. He was then 88 years old and was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Brighton, Michigan.
The George W. Romney Volunteer Center, George W. Romney Building in Lansing, Michigan and Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics in Provo, Utah, have all been named after him.
He also has many awards, such as George and Lenore Romney Citizen Volunteer Award, George W. Romney Excellence Award, The Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award etc, named after him.
In 1995, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
George W. Romney was so fond of his wife that he tried to bring her a flower every day, often a single rose with a love note.