AKA William Edward Boeing
Birthplace: Detroit, MI
Location of death: Seattle, WA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered at sea)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Aviator
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Boeing, United Airlines
William Boeing's father owned a lumber mill, and young Boeing attended Yale, but dropped out to join his father's business. He became fascinated with aviation after paying for a ride aboard a rickety airplane in 1915 in Seattle, but he believed he could build a better plane. Boeing and his friend, Naval officer George Conrad Westervelt, constructed their own two-seat single-engine wooden seaplane, which they named after themselves, calling it the B&W. In 1916 they formed the Pacific Aero Products Company, which became the Boeing Airplane Company the next year, when the Navy transferred Westervelt out of Seattle. Business boomed for Boeing during World War I, but after military orders dried up the company manufactured furniture and boats to stay afloat.
In 1926 Boeing began contracting for postal routes, and between World Wars it was air mail that made Boeing a wealthy man. His company took control of a struggling air transport company called Varney Airlines and a loose-knit group of other air carriers, bringing these entities together as United Air Lines Transportation Company, another Boeing subsidiary, which came to dominate air mail routes. Boeing threatened to move his companies to Los Angeles unless the local government built him a new airport, and in 1928 King County International Airport (commonly called Boeing Field) opened on Seattle's south side.
In 1933, Senator Hugo Black held hearings into Boeing's "monopolistic" practices, and a defiant Boeing testified that he had done nothing illegal. The following year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt cancelled all government contracts with air freight companies, and Postmaster James A. Farley announced that previous contract-holders were ineligible for new contracts. The Air Mail Act of 1934 made it illegal for airplane manufacturers to also operate air service lines, forcing Boeing to sell United Air Lines.
Disgusted at these new trust-busting rules, Boeing quit Boeing at the age of 52. He spent the last two decades of his life in luxurious retirement, reportedly owning a Pekingese dog named General Motors, and died aboard his yacht in 1956.
Father: Wilhelm Böing (timber magnate, b. 1850, d. 1890 influenza)
Mother: Marie Boeing Owsley
Sister: Gretchen Boeing
Sister: Caroline Boeing
Father: Frederick Owsley (stepfather, physician)
Wife: Bertha Potter Paschall Boeing (b. 1891, d. 1977)
Son: Nathaniel Paschall III (stepson, McDonnell-Douglas executive, b. 1912, d. 1979)
Son: Cranston Paschall (stepson, b. 1916, d. 1994)
Son: William Boeing Jr. (real estate developer, b. 1923)
University: Yale University (attended 1902-03)
Administrator: Regent, Seattle University (1935-56)
Boeing Founder and President (1916-34)
United Air Lines Chairman (1929-34)
National Aviation Hall of Fame 1966
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