Frederick O. Detweiler

General Manager

1949 to 1961




Frederick O. Detweiler was born on August 6, 1911, in Granville, Ohio. His father, an American Baptist minister and professor of sociology at Denison University in Granville, gave Fred and his sister, Muriel, a sense of social responsibility and a love of learning.  As a boy, Fred was fascinated by the new technologies of radio, automobiles and aviation, and dreamed of seeing the world. But he stayed in Granville until he graduated from Denison in 1933 with a degree in economics. While at Denison, he fell in love with Edna Adams, also an economics major. After graduation he followed her to her native New England, where she was working as secretary to the president of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corporation of Missouri. Edna and Fred married on June 14, 1934, and set up housekeeping in West Hartford, Connecticut. He held various accounting posts with that division until 1943, when he was transferred to Kansas City to become Divisional Accountant and Secretary of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Corporation of Missouri. In 1945, he was appointed Acting Manager of the plant and supervised its post-war closing. He became Divisional Controller of Sikorsky Aircraft Division in 1946. He was appointed Assistant General Manager of Chance Vought in 1948. He later became President of Chance Vought Aircraft, Inc., when the company separated from United Aircraft Corporation. Fred tells the story of his life in the aircraft industry in “Aviation and Me”.

Fred enjoyed reading history, was always active in his church, and was the chief fundraiser for a variety of civic institutions. He was a modest man and heartily disliked self-aggrandizement, saying that he was simply a bookkeeper who was promoted to the executive level because he could add and subtract.  While at chance Vought, Fred was conscientiously ethical and tried to be fair to all employees, feeling the pain of layoffs keenly.  To illustrate his humility, a retiree related an incident, which took place in the 50’s. The retiree’s husband worked in the facilities department of Vought where he was conducting the annual inventory of all government-owned property.  When the employee approached Mr. Detweiler about having access to his office for the survey, rather than sitting down and observing the process, Fred immediately began to aid in the effort, crawling under his desk to verify the tag number.

Mr. Detweiler remarked frequently on the danger of a large bureaucracy interwoven with the military-industrial complex, fearing that someday contracts might be awarded for something other than merit.  One of his favorite quotations was “millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute.”

Fred was very grateful that he was able to indulge his love for travel with trips to Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean.   He died in 1991 of pulmonary disease, and Edna passed away in 2005. Three of their four children live in the Dallas area; the fourth resides in St. Louis, MO. There are several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Frederick O. Detweiler:
           “Aviation and ME”
           Excerpt from an interview