Skip to comments.Former Boeing President Malcolm Stamper dies
Posted on 06/16/2005 8:58:36 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
SEATTLE - Malcolm Stamper, a Georgia Tech graduate who became president of The Boeing Co. after spearheading the development of the 747 jumbo jet, has died at age 80.
An active civic leader who started a children's book publishing company as soon as he retired, Stamper died in his sleep in his Seattle home Tuesday after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer, his family said Thursday.
Born in Detroit, Stamper grew up poor. His father supported the family by painting cars on the factory floor for Ford Motor Co.
A hardworking and gifted student, Stamper graduated high school at 16, served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946 and got an electrical engineering degree at Georgia Tech. He started his career at General Motors Corp. before joining Boeing in 1962 as head of the company's aerospace electronics division.
Three years later, he was named company vice president and general manager of Boeing's turbine division. Stamper then headed up the 747 program, overseeing production of the world's largest passenger plane even as the factory was being built.
Production of the four-engine behemoth began in mid-1967, less than a year after Boeing bought 780 acres of forested land near Paine Field, an airport in Everett about 30 miles north of Seattle, and started to build the factory.
The first 747 rolled out of the factory in September 1968 and flew in February 1969. Stamper nicknamed the thousands of 747 assembly workers "The Incredibles."
"I remember escorting workers to their cars, telling them to go home, that they'd put in enough hours. But they'd be back in the plant before I was," Stamper told Boeing News for a story published in September 1988.
As vice president and general manager of Boeing Commercial Airplane Co., he also directed the production, sale and development of the 707, 727, 737, 747 and SST aircraft models, before he was named corporate president in 1972.
"He was a very energetic, very dedicated man," said his wife of 59 years, Mari Guinan Stamper. "He just couldn't wait to get up in the morning and go in and produce those planes."
Stamper served as Boeing's president and sat on the board of directors from 1972 to 1985, when he became vice chairman. He retired in 1990., went from a peak of 100,800 employees in 1967 to a low of 38,690 in April 1971
In the late 1960s and 70s, hard times in the aerospace industry forced Boeing to lay off 62,000 of its more 100,800 employees. The "Boeing Bust" hit Seattle so hard that a billboard appeared, reading, "Will the last person leaving Seattle - Turn out the lights."
Nothing ever upset Stamper as much as letting employees go, according to one of his four sons. "It was sort of heartbreaking for him," said Kevin Stamper, 56, and a lawyer who lives on Camano Island northwest of Everett.
In early 1970, Kevin Stamper was fresh out of college, working as a methods analyst at Boeing. He said his dad gave him the bad news before anyone else.
"He was going to lay off long-term people, friends of his. It was a pretty desperate thing. And he wanted me to know I had to be the first one to go," Kevin Stamper recalled.
Stamper was a civic leader who supported the arts and education. He was a trustee and chairman of the Seattle Art Museum, a member of the Smithsonian Institute's national board of directors and a chairman of the United Way's Seattle-area campaign.
Soon after his retirement, he founded Storytellers Ink, a family-run business that went on to publish 40 children's books, all focused on teaching kids to be kind. He was publisher, his wife was the editor, and his daughter, Mary Lynam, was president.
Around the same time, he formed a not-for-profit program called Operation Outreach-USA, Inc., aimed at eliminating illiteracy. He raised money from businesses, foundations and individual donors and poured some of his own money into the effort, which gave books to school children and lesson plans to teachers.
"Every time he'd pick up a newspaper and see what was going on, he'd go back into the office ... and get rededicated to trying to solve the problems by helping to teach the children to read and be kind to each other," Kevin Stamper said.
Among his other interests, Stamper climbed mountains, skied, ran marathons, painted, grew orchids and read voraciously.
"That was sort of untypical," said Harold Carr, 77, Boeing's vice president of public relations from 1986 to 1997. "Boeing was sort of a bastion of people who had a love of airplanes and that was pretty much their life - the products we made, sold and serviced. And here comes Stamper with a much wider variety of interests than just what the company was known for. I think that's what set him apart."
Even during his bout with cancer, he stayed upbeat, hoping that any treatments doctors tried out on him might help someone else one day. "He was just engaged with life. Every day was a wonder. He never spent a second bored in his life," Kevin Stamper said.
In addition to his wife; son, Kevin; and daughter, Mary Lynam, Malcolm Stamper is survived by three other sons, another daughter, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Seattle.
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A serious man.
747 is quite a legacy.
That's too bad. Everything I ever read about him said he was a really good man, both professionally and personally.
A well-lived life.
God Bless and Rest in Peace.
Probably the best CEO Boeing has had in a long, long time. Certainly better than those that followed, especially the last two...
Sounds like he was a helluva guy all the way through - wish I'd known more about him previously.
God Bless Him.
I wish Boeing had more like him.
Meanwhile, Boeing is Celebrating Gay History Month. Because receiving when you should be pitching brings a valuable point of view to the workplace.
They have to. It was part of a union contract that Boeing was forced to accept in order to stop a strike that halted all jetliner deliveries. You can thank Boeing's engineers union for that.
Just like the Liberals, tarnish and ruin another fine American company.
Its a pleasure to read about such an uplifting and inspirational life.....Gives a measure of relief to the daily onslaught of bad news.
As a manager, I'd rate him as not the best and not the worst.
Did you know Sutter asw well?
Compromising on issues of morals and values is a losing proposition. Don't take my word for it, just look what happened to recent Boeing leaders -- Presidents, CFO, etc., etc. who compromised their personal ethics, morals, and values and what it did to the organization. The Boeing company acceptance of "Gay Pride Month" as a condition to a labor contract shows how low they have fallen since the Stamper years. But I guess it is to be expected when top corporate leaders violate their marriage vows and are diverted from their responsibilities.
I knew him from a distance. He was many pay grades above me.
I worked under Ed Pfaffman (sp?) who was in charge of 747 mechanical systems and directly under Joe Sutter.
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