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Charles F. Kettering
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Inventor
    (August 29, 1876-November 25, 1958)
    Born in Loudonville, Ohio
    Founded Delco Electronics (1909)
    With Orville Wright founded the Douglas Wright Airplane Company (1917)
    Head of research for General Motors (1920-47)
    Held 186 patents
    Best-known invention was the electric self-starter for automobiles (1911)
    With GM chair Alfred P. Sloan, funded the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (1945)
    Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (1980)
    He joined Thomas Midgeley, Jr., in promoting the use of leaded gasoline and Freon, both of which would have a negative impact on the environment.
    One of his few failures was an attempt to design an air-cooled engine, which resulted in a $31 million loss for GM.
    He avoided unwanted meetings by giving his secretary standing instructions to tell unexpected visitors that he was dead.
    Despite his wealth --estimated at $200 million, mostly from GM stock -- he never carried cash, forcing the 'guests' he invited to join him at restaurants to pick up the check.
    The electric starter, by eliminating laborious and dangerous hand-cranking, gave women the independence to drive by themselves.
    He invented electric lights for autos that allowed motorists to drive at night.
    Working with DuPont, he developed a paint that could be sprayed onto a car and dried in minutes instead of the weeks required for previous paints.
    He convinced one skeptic in GM's paint division by taking him to lunch then returning to the company parking lot, where the executive could not find his car -- because it had been painted a new color during their meal.
    His sayings included, 'I notice the harder I work, the luckier I get' and 'It doesn't matter if you try and try again and fail. It does matter if you try and fail, and fail to try again.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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