Birthday: October 1, 1881
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: William Edward Boeing
Born Country: United States
Born in: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Famous as: Founder of Boeing Company
Height: 4'7" (140 cm)
Spouse/Ex-: Bertha Marie Potter Paschall (m. 1921)
father: Wilhelm Boeing
mother: Marie M. Ortmann
siblings: Caroline Boeing, Gretchen Boeing
children: William E. Boeing Jr.
Died on: September 28, 1956
City: Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
U.S. State: Michigan
education: Yale University, Sheffield Scientific School
Who was William Boeing?
William Edward Boeing was an American aviator and businessman who established the Boeing Company in 1916. Originally from Michigan, Boeing hailed from an affluent immigrant family. At the age of eight, he lost his father, and his mother married a second time. He then left for Europe to study at a school in Vevey, Switzerland. After he permanently returned to US, he started attending Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1903, he dropped out and joined the lumber business, where his father had made money after immigrating to US from Germany. After settling in the Pacific Northwest at Hoquiam, Washington, he bought large timberlands around Grays Harbor on the Olympic Peninsula and ventured into lumber operations. Boeing developed an interest in aviation during a visit to Seattle in 1909. Along with George Conrad Westervelt, he set up the business venture B & W in 1916 and established Pacific Aero Products Co. After US joined the First World War, Boeing renamed the company Boeing Airplane Company. In 1927, he founded Boeing Air Transport. In the next few years, it merged with several other airlines to form United Air Lines.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on October 1, 1881, in Detroit, Michigan, USA, William Boeing was the son of Marie M. Ortmann and Wilhelm Böing. Both his parents were European immigrants. His father was originally from Hohenlimburg, Germany, while his mother was born in Vienna, Austria.
After arriving in America, Wilhelm was initially employed as a labourer. Because of his decision to immigrate to the United States, Wilhelm had a fight with his own father and was not granted any financial backing. Despite this, he became wealthy after venturing into the lumber business.
In 1890, Boeing’s father passed away due to complications related to influenza. He was eight years old at the time. His mother subsequently wedded a second time. He travelled to Europe and studied at a school in Vevey, Switzerland. For a year, he came back to US to attend a prep school in Boston.
At some point in the late 1890s or early 1900s, he returned to study at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. However, he dropped out in 1903 and entered the lumber business.
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After relocating to the Pacific Northwest at Hoquiam, Washington, William Boeing bought large timberlands around Grays Harbor on the Olympic Peninsula and acquired necessary permits for lumber operations. This turned out to be a successful venture. The revenue generated here was utilized by him when he joined the aviation industry.
Boeing was a sailing enthusiast and had worked on various boat designs. During his tenure as president of Greenwood Timber Company, he travelled to Seattle and attended the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.
He instantly developed an interest in aircraft and enrolled at the Glenn L. Martin Flying School in Los Angeles. He also bought one of Martin’s planes. Martin pilot James Floyd Smith went to Seattle to put together Boeing’s recently-purchased Martin TA hydroaeroplane and give Boeing further training.
William Boeing completed his training. While his test pilot, Herb Munter, was flying the plane, it was damaged. After learning from Martin that he would not get replacement parts for months, Boeing got together with his friend Commander George Conrad Westervelt of the US Navy and decided to build a plane of their own. The B &W Seaplane or Boeing Model 1 took its first flight on June 15, 1916.
Boeing Airplane Company
William Boeing and Westervelt launched B & W together in 1916 and set up the Pacific Aero Products Co. The United States formally joined World War I on April 8, 1917. About a month after that, Boeing gave his company a new name, Boeing Airplane Company, and was successful in securing a 50-plane order from the US Navy.
After the war ended, the company came into its own. It shifted its focus to manufacturing commercial aircraft.
In 1929, William Boeing along with Frederick Rentschler of Pratt & Whitney founded the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. A vertically-integrated company, the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation invested in every facet of aviation. They soon bought out a number of small airlines and merged them with Boeing’s airlines to form the United Air Lines.
In 1934, the US government levelled allegations against William Boeing that he was monopolising the aviation industry. That year, the Air Mail Act compelled aeroplane companies to segregate flight operations from development and manufacturing.
An embittered William Boeing had to give up his ownership and leave the aviation industry. Except for a short executive term during the Second World War, he did not take part again in the operations of his namesake company.
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His holding company, United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, was divided into three individual companies: United Aircraft Corporation (currently United Technologies Corporation), Boeing Airplane Company (presently the Boeing Company), and United Air Lines.
In 1937, William Boeing started spending a lot of time with horses. Throughout the years, he displayed racist tendencies. From 1935 to 1944, he and his wife put aside an extensive area of land. In the following years, communities like Richmond Beach, Richmond Heights, Innis Arden, Blue Ridge, and Shoreview sprang up there. Intending to implement segregation on their land, the Boeings issued racially restrictive covenants.
They proscribed properties from being "sold, conveyed, rented, or leased in whole or in part to any person not of the White or Caucasian race." Non-whites were allowed to acquire property in the land only if they were the hired help of “a person of the White or Caucasian race”.
After quitting the aviation industry, Boeing devoted himself primarily to property development and thoroughbred horse breeding.
He was troubled by the prospect of World War II battles in the Pacific Northwest and bought a 650-acre (260 ha) farm in the countryside east of Seattle. Boeing named this place "Aldarra". His family owned the estate until most of the land was purchased and turned into a golf course in 2001. However, they did not sell several acres on which Boeing’s own house along with two smaller houses is located.
He predominantly lived in a palatial house in the Highlands community close to Seattle. The William E. Boeing House has been included on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1966, William Boeing was posthumously included into the Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.
In 1984, Boeing became an inductee into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
Family & Personal Life
In 1921, William Boeing exchanged wedding vows with Bertha Marie Potter Paschall. He was Bertha’s second husband. Her first husband was a real-estate broker named Nathaniel Paschall.
Boeing and Bertha had a son together, named William E. Boeing Jr. (1922–2015). He also helped raise his two stepsons, Nathaniel "Nat" Paschall Jr. and Cranston Paschall.
Death & Legacy
William Boeing passed away on September 28, 1956, three days prior to his 75th birthday. He had suffered a heart attack while he was on his yacht in Puget Sound, Washington, and was subsequently taken to the Seattle Yacht Club, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Boeing was cremated and his ashes were dispersed on the coast of British Columbia, where he sailed his yacht, Taconite.
At present, the Boeing Company is one of the biggest global aerospace manufacturers as well as the fifth-largest defence contractor in the world by revenue. Based on fleet size and route network, United Air Lines is the third largest airline in the world.