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Walter Percy Chrysler Passed Away

Today in Masonic History Walter Percy Chrysler passed away in 1940.

Walter Percy Chrysler was an American automotive industrialist.

Chrysler was born on April 2nd, 1875 in Wamego, Kansas. He began his career as a an apprentice machinist and railroad mechanic. His father, a Canadian born Civil War veteran also worked for the railroad as a locomotive engineer. Walter Chrysler took correspondence classes from the International Correspondence School in Pennsylvania to earn a mechanical degree.

Eventually Chrysler began traveling around the country working for various railroads. Often he became bored with where he was and wanted to become more well rounded in his skills. Other times, his temper got away from him and a move became necessary. The pinnacle of his railroad career was working for the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The director of ALCO was a banker and executive at General Motors. He approached Chrysler about making the move into the automotive industry. A meeting was setup for Chrysler to meet with the President of Buick Motor Company who was looking for a smart production chief. He accepted the job and found many ways to help reduce production costs for Buick.

In 1916, William Durant, who founded GM in 1908, took back control of the company from the bankers who Chrysler was closely allied. Chrysler immediately tendered his resignation to Durant. Durant who was working out of New York City caught the first train to Flint, Michigan to convince Chrysler to remain with the company. Durant offered Chrysler one of the most lucrative packages of the time, included a salary and a large end of the year bonus each year during his three year contract. The deal was so massive, Chrysler had Durant repeat the deal before he accepted because he couldn't believe what he was hearing. Chrysler had free run of Buick and answered only to Durant.

After Chrysler's three year contract was up he once again tendered his resignation feeling Durant did not share his vision for Buick. Durant bought back all of Chrysler's shares in GM making Chrysler one of the richest men in America.

In 1919, Chrysler was once again sought out by bankers, this time to turn around Willys-Overland Motor Company. He demanded, and received, a $1 million per year salary over the next two years, an unheard of salary for the time. In 1921, before left Willys-Overland he tried to wrest control from John Willys and was unsuccessful. Instead he acquired control of the Maxwell Motor Company. He slowly phased Maxwell out and absorbed the company into his new firm, Chrysler Corporation of Detroit, Michigan. He also created the Plymouth and DeSoto brands.

1928 was a big year Chrysler. He purchased Dodge, he financed construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City and he was Time Magazine's Man of the Year.

In 1936, Chrysler stepped down from running the day to day operation of his company. Two years after his wife passed away. He was devastated. He never recovered from the loss of his childhood sweetheart. On August 18th, 1940 he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Chrysler was a member of Apollo Lodge No. 297 in Ellis, Kansas.