Walter Percy Chrysler

Burial Location Visited
Sleepy Hollow, New York May 22, 2010


The founder of the Chrysler Corporation rests                             For many years, the Chrysler Corporation's
at the edge of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in                                    headquarters was the famous Chrysler
Sleepy Hollow, New York.                                                          Building in New York. It was the tallest
                                                                                              structure in the world until it was
                                                                                              surpassed by the Empire State Building in


Walter Chrysler's Chrysler Corporation was                                  Chrysler's wife, Della, is also interred
founded in 1925, and continues to make                                     inside the mausoleum.
automobiles today.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Walter P. Chrysler, the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, was born on April 2, 1875 in Wamego, Kansas. His family moved to the town of Ellis in 1878, when he was three years old. During his youth in Ellis, Chrysler sold silverware door-to-door and made deliveries for his mother, who sold milk and cream. He also spent some time working as a delivery boy for a grocery store. As he grew older, Chrysler developed an interest in machines. He desired to be like his father and work for the Union Pacific Railroad as an engineer.

* However, Hank Chrysler did not want Walter working for the railroad. Walter's older brother was already taking part in the Union Pacific Railroad's apprentice machinist program, and Hank wanted at least one of his offspring to attend college. As such, he refused to sign the papers that would have permitted Walter to join the program. Still dreaming to become an engineer, Walter applied for a job as a janitor at the machine shop. After analyzing his work habits, the shop's master mechanic talked Hank into letting his son become an apprentice at the shop. During his four-year apprenticeship, Walter learned the ins and outs of every machine that he encountered. Other machinists at the shop were impressed with the young Chrysler's intelligence and ambition.

* In 1897, Chrysler left his hometown and ventured out on his own. He got a job as a journeyman machinist in Wellington, working for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. After, Chrysler jumped from job to job, eventually finding work in Salt Lake City in 1900. He wed his childhood sweetheart, Della Forker, in Ellis the following year. Still an employee of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in Salt Lake City, Chrysler worked his way up the ladder to roundhouse foreman. He left the company in 1903 and moved to Colorado, where he soon became the division master mechanic for the Colorado & Southern Railroad. After a few moves, different companies, and several promotions, Chrysler became the general master mechanic for the Chicago Great Western Railroad.

* Chrysler's interest in automobiles began after he attended a car show in 1908. There, he saw a white Locomobile touring car, which he purchased for $5,000 ($4,300 of it borrowed). He spent three months disassembling and assembling the vehicle before finally taking it for a ride, during which the car got stuck in the mud and almost hit a cow. In 1912, Chrysler left his job at the American Locomotive Company (where he had worked since 1909) to work for the Buick Motor Company as a works manager. Chrysler was a gigantic help to Buick and introduced basic cost accounting to the company. He also found many ways to increase productivity at the plant in Michigan where he worked. The number of cars the plant produced increased six-fold in 1916. That year, William C. Durant of General Motors gave Chrysler the position of president of Buick and upped his salary tremendously. He later became the vice president of GM and, after a disagreement with Durant, left the company in 1919.

* After selling his GM stock to Durant, Chrysler walked away from the company with $10 million, a substantial amount of cash. He was hired as the executive vice president of the financially struggling Willys-Overland Motor Company and turned it around. After leaving Willys-Overland, Chrysler did the same for the Maxwell Motor Company. In January of 1924, the first Chrysler car, dubbed the Chrysler Six, was released. It had six cylinders and many amazing features, the Chrysler Six was a revolutionary mid-sized vehicle. On June 6, 1925, the Maxwell Motor Company was re-organized as the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler was named Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" for 1928. He had a successful run as the president of the Chrysler Corporation, stepping down in 1935. Chrysler did not retire completely, however, as he remained the chairman of the board of executives for the next five years. His beloved wife, Della, died in 1938, about which time Chrysler was stricken with a stroke. A second stroke two years later claimed his life.

Spouse: Della V. Forker Chrysler (1876-1938)

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