George Skakel

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George Skakel
George Skakel.jpg
Born (1892-07-16)July 16, 1892
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died October 3, 1955(1955-10-03) (aged 63)
near Union City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Cause of death Airplane crash
Resting place Saint Mary's Cemetery
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1919–1955
Employer The Great Lakes Coal & Coke Company
Spouse(s) Ann Brannack
(m. 1918–1955; their deaths)
  • Georgeann Skakel
  • James Curtis Skakel III
  • George Skakel Jr.
  • Rushton Walter Skakel
  • Patricia Sistine Skakel
  • Ethel Skakel
  • Ann Skakel
Parent(s) James Curtis Skakel Sr. and Grace Mary Jordan
Relatives William Skakel (brother), Margaret Skakel (sister), James Curtis Skakel Jr. (brother)

George Skakel Sr. (July 16, 1892 – October 3, 1955) was an American businessman and the founder of Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, currently part of SGL Carbon.

Early life and career[edit]

Skakel was born in Chicago, Illinois, to businessman James Curtis Skakel Sr. (1860–1947) and Grace Mary Jordan (1858–1936), who were Protestants of Dutch ancestry.[1][2][3] He had an elder brother William Skakel (1888–1946), a younger sister Margaret Skakel (1894–1983), and a younger brother James Curtis Skakel Jr. (1899–1984).[4]

Skakel began his career as a railroad shipping clerk earning $8 a week.[3] While employed by the railroad, he noticed the price volatility of coal fines for coke, which is a byproduct of producing more-in-demand forms of coal. At most times, the coal mining companies were forced to store the coke or pay to have it disposed of in rivers. Skakel came up with an idea to purchase the coke from coal companies. In May 1919, Skakel and two partners put up $1,000 and established The Great Lakes Coal & Coke Company.[4] The company would purchase the coke from coal companies and then reprocessed the coke into clean carbon which was used to produce aluminum. By 1929, Skakel had become a multi-millionaire.[5] The business eventually grew into The Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, which became the one of the largest privately held corporations in the United States. After Skakel's death in 1955, his sons George Jr. (who also died in a plane crash, in 1966) and James III took over the business.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Skakel married his former secretary Ann Brannack (1892–1955) in 1917.[4] They had seven children:

  • Georgeann Skakel Dowdle-Terrien (October 15, 1918 – August 25, 1983)
  • James Curtis Skakel III (May 3, 1921 – April 25, 1998)
  • George Skakel Jr. (August 4, 1922 – September 23, 1966)
  • Rushton Walter Skakel (October 5, 1923 – January 2, 2003), father of Thomas and Michael Skakel
  • Patricia Sistine Skakel Cuffe (1925–2000)
  • Ethel Skakel Kennedy (born April 11, 1928) would go on to marry Robert F. Kennedy in June 1950.[7]
  • Ann Skakel McCooey (born February 14, 1933).[8]


On October 3, 1955, Skakel and his wife Ann were killed when the private plane they were traveling in crashed near Union City, Oklahoma.[9] The two are buried at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Greenwich, Connecticut.[10] From January 2, 2003, of his seven children, only Ethel Kennedy and Ann McCooey survive.


  1. ^ David, Lester (1971). Ethel: The Story of Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy. World Publishing Company. p. 4. 
  2. ^ Sheenan, Susan (November 3, 1969). "Heaven Still Has Pearly Gates, Angels, For Ethel". The Palm Beach Post. p. C-4. 
  3. ^ a b Hilty, James (2000). Robert Kennedy: Brother Protector. Temple University Press. p. 54. ISBN 1-439-90519-3. 
  4. ^ a b c Oppenheimer, Jerry (1995). The Other Mrs. Kennedy: An Intimate and Revealing Look at the Hidden Life of Ethel Skakel Kennedy. Macmillan. p. 23. ISBN 0-312-95600-2. 
  5. ^ Dumas, Timothy (1998). Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's Wealthiest Community. Arcade Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 1-559-70441-1. 
  6. ^ Levitt, Leonard (2004). Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder: A Reporter and a Detective's Twenty-Year Search for Justice. HarperCollins. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-060-54430-9. 
  7. ^ Lewine, Francine (May 22, 1969). "Ethel - "Most Admired" - Ends Year of Mourning". The Palm Beach Post. p. C-14. 
  8. ^ "A Dynasty Strained". November 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Robert Kennedy's Wife's Parents Die in Plane Crash". The Daily Boston Globe. October 5, 1955. p. 29. 
  10. ^ (David 1971, p. 226)

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