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He received his M.D. from Cleveland Medical College (now Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine), studied surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in 1863 and served as a battlefront surgeon for the Union Army in the Civil War. After a few years in a struggling medical practice, he went to work in Pennsylvania's oilfields and became a real estate speculator.
After the war he reached a licensing agreement with Charles Goodyear and bought the Hudson River Rubber Company in partnership with J.P. Morris in 1869. The company, located in Melrose, New York, failed. The following year he accepted an offer of $13,600 from the citizens of Akron, Ohio to relocate his business there. He founded Goodrich, Tew & Co. in 1870. Goodrich bought out Tew, and in 1880 the company became the B.F. Goodrich Company.
Benjamin Goodrich was the first in Akron to own a telephone, which was a gift from Alexander Graham Bell in 1877. The telephone connected Goodrich's house on Quaker Street to his factory on Rubber Street.
According a story, Goodrich had seen a friend's home burn to the ground, with firefighters rendered helpless because their leather hoses had frozen and cracked. Once settled in Akron, Goodrich ordered his company to begin producing cotton-wrapped rubber hose that would resist freezing. A few years later Goodrich started selling garden hoses (allowing bucketless garden watering) and bicycle tires. Still, the company teetered near bankruptcy and went through numerous name changes, its success still uncertain when Goodrich died at the age of 46 in 1888.
Business began booming at B.F. Goodrich Company a few years after Goodrich's death with the company's introduction of a pneumatic tire that could endure the speed and load of the evolving automobile. The radial tire was designed by an advertising employee in his company. Over subsequent decades, Goodrich Company chemists invented plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in 1926, synthesized rubber in 1937 and built space suits for NASA astronauts in the 1960s. Now renamed Goodrich Corporation, the company abandoned the tire business in 1988 and now describes itself as a global supplier of systems and services to the aerospace, defense and homeland security markets.
The brand name Goodrich now appears on tires made by Michelin, which bought the Uniroyal-B. F. Goodrich tire business in 1994.
Father: Anson Goodrich (born 15-April–1792, died 17-June–1847)
Mother: Susannah Dinsmoor Goodrich (born 12-January–1799, m. April–1816)
Wife: Mary Elizabeth Marvin Goodrich (born 3-July–1841, m. 4-November–1869)
Son: Charles Cross Goodrich (Goodrich chemist, born 3-August–1871, died 10-July-1932)
Son: Marvin Goodrich (born 1872, d. infancy)
Daughter: Isabella Goodrich Breckinridge (born 8-February–1874, married John Cabell Breckinridge II, died 3-February-1961) One of her children was Marvin Breckinridge Patterson
Son: David Marvin Goodrich (Goodrich executive, born 22-June–1876, died 17-May-1950)