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Harold Fowler McCormick

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Harold Fowler McCormick
Born(1872-05-02)May 2, 1872
DiedOctober 16, 1941(1941-10-16) (aged 69)
Resting placeGraceland Cemetery
EmployerInternational Harvester Company
(m. 1895; div. 1921)
(m. 1922; div. 1931)
Parent(s)Cyrus Hall McCormick
Nancy Fowler McCormick
RelativesSee McCormick family

Harold Fowler McCormick (May 2, 1872 – October 16, 1941) was an American businessman. He was chairman of the board of International Harvester Company and a member of the McCormick family. In 1948 he was awarded the Henry Laurence Gantt Medal by the American Management Association and the ASME.[1]

Early life[edit]

Harold Fowler McCormick was born in Chicago May 2, 1872, to inventor Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809–1884) and philanthropist Nancy Fowler (1835–1923).[2][3]

During the 1890s, he competed in the US National Tennis Championships.[4]


As an officer of the Aero Club of Illinois, founded on February 10, 1910, McCormick became the third president in 1912, following Octave Chanute and James E. Plew.[5][6]

In 1914, McCormick, Plew, and Bion J. Arnold attempted to form a commuter airline which they announced would begin service in May, "using seaplanes to ferry passengers between various North Shore suburbs and Grant Park and the South Shore Country Club, of which he was a founder. Lake Shore Airline, which had two seaplanes, was intended to be a profit-making venture charging a steep twenty-eight-dollar round-trip fare between Lake Forest and downtown Chicago on four daily scheduled circuits. However, Chicago's irregular weather, especially the crosswinds, made a shamble of schedules, and the airline disappeared before the end of the year."[7][8]

McCormick became chairman of the board of International Harvester Company in 1935, replacing his older brother Cyrus Jr. (1859–1936).[9]

Personal life[edit]

Harold Fowler McCormick with his first wife, Edith Rockefeller, in 1895

On November 26, 1895, he married Edith Rockefeller (1872–1932), the youngest daughter of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman. McCormick became the third inaugural trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. He was also a trustee of the Rockefeller-created University of Chicago. He and Edith resided at 1000 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and were the parents of five children before their divorce in December 1921:

  • John Rockefeller McCormick (1897–1901), who died from Scarlet fever.
  • Editha McCormick (1903–1904), who also died young.
  • Harold Fowler McCormick Jr. (1898–1973), who married Anne Urquhart Brown "Fifi" (née Potter) Stillman (1879–1969), who had previously been married to James A. Stillman, and was the daughter of James Brown Potter and Mary Cora Urquhart.[10]
  • Muriel McCormick (1903–1959), who married Elisha Dyer Hubbard (1878-1936), a nephew of Elisha Dyer Jr. and grandson of Elisha Dyer (both Rhode Island governors), in 1931.
  • Mathilde McCormick (1905–1947),[11] who married Wilheim Max Oser (1877–1942), a Swiss riding instructor, in April 1923.[12]

After his divorce from Edith, and before his second marriage, McCormick sought to fortify himself by undergoing an operation by Serge Voronoff, a surgeon who specialized in transplanting animal glands into aging men with impotency.[13] In 1922, McCormick married Polish opera singer Ganna Walska.[14] They divorced in 1931.

McCormick's grave at Graceland Cemetery

McCormick died on October 16, 1941, of a cerebral hemorrhage, at his home in Beverly Hills, California.[3][15] He was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.


Orson Welles claimed that McCormick's lavish promotion of Walska's opera career—despite her renown as a terrible singer—was a direct influence on the screenplay for Citizen Kane, wherein the titular character does much the same for his second wife.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lester Robert Bittel, Muriel Albers Bittel (1978), Encyclopedia of professional management . p. 456
  2. ^ Leander James McCormick (1896). Family record and biography. L.J. McCormick. pp. 303–304.
  3. ^ a b "Harold McCormick Industrialist, Dies. Chairman of the International Harvester Co., Which His Father, Cyrus, Founded. Sponsored Successful Search for Scarlet Fever Antitoxin. A Supporter of Opera". New York Times. October 17, 1941. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  4. ^ "The Sport In Which Millionaires Are Champions". Chicago Tribune. August 11, 1907. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  5. ^ Young, David M., "Chicago Aviation: An Illustrated History", Northern Illinois University Press, Dekalb, Illinois, Library of Congress card number 2002033803, ISBN 0-87580-311-3, page 54.
  6. ^ Young, David M., "Chicago Aviation: An Illustrated History", Northern Illinois University Press, Dekalb, Illinois, Library of Congress card number 2002033803, ISBN 0-87580-311-3, page 56.
  7. ^ Chicago Tribune, January 25, 1918; Harold F. McCormick, "From My Experiences Concerning Aviation," speeches of December 1 and 8, 1917, before the Psychological Club of Zurich, Switzerland, McCormick Collection, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.
  8. ^ Young, David M., "Chicago Aviation: An Illustrated History", Northern Illinois University Press, Dekalb, Illinois, Library of Congress card number 2002033803, ISBN 0-87580-311-3, page 57.
  9. ^ Currey, Josiah Seymour (April 27, 2017). "Harold Fowler McCormick". Chicago: Its History and its Builders. Vol. 4. Jazzybee Verlag. ISBN 9783849648978. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Fowler McCormick Dies at 74; Ex‐Chairman of Harvester". The New York Times. January 7, 1973. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "MRS. MAX OSER DIES ON COAST; Granddaughter of the Late John D. Rockefeller, Sister of Fowfer McCormick ". The New York Times. May 19, 1947. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "MRS. OSER GOES TO MOTHER; Rides in Twentieth Century to Bedside of Mrs. McCormick" (PDF). The New York Times. August 18, 1932. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Grossman, Ron. (March 31, 1985) Chicago Tribune Lost lake shore drive: Mourning an era; Mansions of rich and famous yield to giant condos. Section: Real estate; Page 1.
  14. ^ "Walska the Bride of H. F. McCormick. Wedded in Quiet Paris Ceremony, With Mr. and Mrs. Malone the Only Witnesses. Posting Of Banns Waived. Official Says Couple Gave an 'Immense Amount' to Poor. Union Illegal in Illinois". Associated Press in the New York Times. August 12, 1922. Retrieved September 4, 2012. Harold F. McCormick of Chicago, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Harvester Company, and Mrs. Alexander Smith Cochran, known to the music world as Mme. Ganna Walska, were married quietly today in the City Hall of the select Passy district of Paris.
  15. ^ "Harold Fowler McCormick". Associated Press. October 17, 1941. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  16. ^ Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adams, Brian (2015) [2014]. Ganna: Diva of Lotusland. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-5141-6957-5.
  • Chernow, Ron (1998). Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. New York: Warner Books.
  • (Harvester World) Issue v.22, no.1, January 1942.

External links[edit]