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Colonel Edwards A. Deeds

1874 -1960 Dayton, OH, USA

 

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Achievement

Headed World War I aviation program.
3rd President of NCR 1931 till 1957
Co-inventor of the automobile self-starter with Charles F. Kettering.

Biography


Deeds during a survey at NCR construction site at Stewart St. ca. 1900

Edwards A. Deeds graduated in 1897 from the Denison University in Grandville Ohio. He came to Dayton as draftsman for the Thresher Company. This company was based in the Callahan Power Building where NCR in 1884 started their activities. Deeds occupies himself with designing and installing motors in Dayton, Washington, Waterbury (Connecticut) and in Cincinnati at a salary of $12 monthly.
In 1899 Frank Patterson, John Henry Patterson brother offered him a salary of $30 a month to strengthen the NCR team. He accepted the offer, and started to complete the electrification for the NCR factories and builds the first electrical power plant. At the age of 24 he drew the attention of John Patterson through an incident that almost got him fired. Deeds discovered a dangerously weak construction in one of the chimneys and convinced Frank to let him repair it. But he did not wait for permission and started to break down the chimney. The same night a storm damaged the pipe and it fell down on the power plant's kettle house causing a lot of damage. But Deeds was not defeated and worked the entire night and production continued the next day as if nothing happened.

 

John Patterson was so impressed that he did not fire Deeds for this one man action. Deeds also impressed Henry Perky, the developer of health food, who was visiting NCR. Perky proposed Deeds to help him to set up the Shredded Wheat Factory in Niagra Fall close to New York. Deeds accepted this new challenge and became chief constructor. He saved this company also by getting a re-finance from New York bankers when Perky almost went bankrupt.
This was his first success in developing and financing such projects.
John Patterson recalled Deeds to NCR in 1903 and appointed him as general assistant manager responsible for development and construction. Deeds stayed 12 years at NCR. During this time he engaged Charles F. Kettering a graduate from Ohio State University to use his expertise to power the cashiers by an electric motor. Deeds himself had already done some prototyping to prove that it could be done. In three years time Kettering came up with a working production ripe model.
Deeds and Kettering worked day and night when working on something that kept great promises for the future. Kettering left NCR in 1908 and went to work with William S. Chryst, a NCR colleague, in a workshop of Deeds to make electric starters for cars. When Harry Leland of the Cadillac Company ordered 5000 ignition sets Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company ”Delco” was founded.

Colonel Deeds left NCR in 1915 to devote himself fully to the success of this new company, but still was committed to NCR's expansion.
In 1910 Deeds was appointed vice president and executed many new projects. He also made plans to found another Dayton type factory in Berlin and kept his role as mentor for the company.
After the flooding in 1913 Deeds became vice president of the Inundation Prevention Committee and was responsible for the Miami Conservancy Project which constructed a series of dams that should keep Dayton free of flooding's. The project was successfully concluded in 1922.
Deeds got the title “colonel” because he served in WW I in the American Army, and through his activities Dayton became the center of aviation. He founded the Wright Airplane Company together with Orvile Wright, Charles Kettering and H.E. Talbott ( who was the son of designer Talbott whom designed the bridge on Daytons main street)
Deeds coordinated and supervised the delivery of military airplanes to the government in 1917. He also was the first person to have a private landing strip at his home in Moraine Farm.
Deeds returned to NCR in 1931 because he felt himself very much committed to the company. His power to inspire people led NCR to great heights the next 26 years. In 1957 he stepped down as president and was a beloved figure in the company, as well as one of the greatest inventors of the 20th century

Chronology

 

Honors and awards

 

Bibliography

 

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Footnotes & References