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Ransom E. Olds

AKA Ransom Eli Olds

Born: 3-Jun-1864
Birthplace: Geneva, OH
Died: 26-Aug-1950
Location of death: Lansing, MI
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing, MI

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Engineer
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Nucor and Oldsmobile

Ransom E. Olds (friends called him 'Ranny') was the first titan of the American auto industry. His father was a blacksmith and machinist who built and repaired steam engines, and young Ransom worked in his father's shop and began tinkering with gasoline engines by his teens. He dropped out of high school, but briefly attended Lansing Business College. He began selling his one-cylinder four-cycle Runabout or "Curved Dash" Olds in 1896, and in 1899 he found financial backing to form the Olds Motor Works, which bought out his father's business and sold more than 5,000 cars over the next five years, making Olds by far the best-selling car in America. His factory was the first to use an assembly line manufacturing process, and Olds himself patented the process, though Henry Ford's famous factory line, begun in 1907, was far more efficient.

In 1904, amidst increasing conflicts with the son of his company's financial backer, Olds sold almost all his stock in the Olds Motor Works and established a new business named for his initials, the REO Motor Car Company. He remained at the helm of REO until his retirement in 1936, and the firm was perhaps best known for its popular lawn mowers and REO Speedwagon trucks (for which the band REO Speedwagon was named). REO ceased producing cars during the Great Depression, was re-named Nuclear Consultants, Inc in 1950, and is now known as Nucor Corporation, a major manufacturer of hot- and cold-rolled steel, steel joists, and metal buildings. Olds' first company, Olds Motor Works, was purchased by General Motors and became the Oldsmobile division, which was discontinued by GM in 2004.

Father: Pliny Fisk Olds (blacksmith, b. 28-Sep-1828, d. 1-Jul-1908)
Mother: Sarah Whipple Olds (b. 24-Apr-1834, m. 22-May-1849, d. 7-Aug-1910)
Brother: Wilbur Jason Olds (milkman, b. 19-Jun-1850, d. 1913)
Brother: Emery Whipple Olds (b. 21-Apr-1853, d. 1914)
Brother: Wallace Samuel Olds (Olds Motor Works executive, b. 13-Sep-1856)
Sister: Sarah Eliza Olds Sheets (b. 20-Mar-1859)
Wife: Metta Ursula Woodward Olds (b. 6-Jun-1864, m. 5-Jun-1889, d. 1950, three daughters, one son)
Daughter: Gladys Marguerite Olds Anderson (b. 15-Jul-1892, d. 30-Oct-1981)
Daughter: Bernice Estelle Olds Roe (b. 16-Apr-1894)
Daughter: Mildred Lucille Olds (b. 09-Sep-1899, d. 21-Sep-1899)
Son: Ralph Olds (b. 19-Aug-1902, d. 20-Aug-1902)

    University: Lansing Business College (attended, circa 1882)

    REO Motor Car Company Founder and President (1904-24)
    Olds Motor Works Co-Founder (1899-1904)
    P. F. Olds & Son (1880-99)
    Member of the Board of REO Motor Car Company (as Chairman, 1924-36)
    Nucor
    Freemasonry
    Knights Templar
    Shriners
    English Ancestry


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