Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar Fosburgh), 1908-1981

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Industrialist Edgar F. Kaiser was the son of Henry J. Kaiser, who was the founder of numerous Kaiser enterprises such as Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. and Kaiser Steel Corp. Edgar Kaiser began his career in the 1920s as superintendent of a natural gas pipeline project. In the 1930s he supervised dam projects, including the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. He went on to serve in executive positions at various Kaiser companies, including Oregon Shipbuilding Corp., the automobile manufacturer Kaiser-Frazer Corp., and Kaiser Motors Corp. In 1956 he was elected president of Kaiser Industries Corp., the parent company of all Kaiser enterprises, becoming chairman of the board in 1967 upon the death of his father. He developed health care plans for workers in some Kaiser companies -- plans which evolved into the present Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization. He served on many governmental advisory panels, including the President's Committee on Urban Housing, which he headed from 1966 to 1968, and the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees, to which he was appointed in 1977. Also in 1977 he oversaw the voluntary liquidation of Kaiser Industries Corp.

From the description of Edgar F. Kaiser papers, 1886-1981. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 84650891

Chronological Biography

  • 1908: Edgar Fosburgh Kaiser born in Spokane, Washington, on July 29, the first child of Henry John and Bessie Fosburgh Kaiser. Attended grammar school in Seattle, Washington and began working on his father's road paving projects at age 12. Attended high school in Oakland, California.
  • 1926 - 1930 : Attended University of California, Berkeley, majoring in economics, but left one semester short of graduation to become superintendent on a natural gas pipeline project in Kansas and Oklahoma.
  • 1931 - 1932 : Managed pipeline projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, and Montana.
  • 1932: Married Dorothy Sue Mead of Washington, D.C., on August 24.
  • 1932 - 1933 : Started as shovel foreman and became superintendent of canyon excavation for Six Companies, Inc., at Hoover (Boulder) Dam.
  • 1934 - 1938 : Named administrative manager of Columbia Construction Company's main spillway at Bonneville Dam (on the Columbia River).
  • 1938 - 1941 : Appointed project manager of the Grand Coulee Dam project in Washington by Consolidated Builders, Inc. Brought Dr. Sidney R. Garfield there to establish a comprehensive prepaid medical care program for workers and their families, the beginning of the Kaiser Health Plan, the world's first prepaid health maintenance organization.
  • 1941 - 1945 : Named vice president and general manager of Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation and Kaiser Company, Inc., with shipyards at Portland, Vancouver, and Swan Island. Kaiser again sponsored a prepaid health plan for shipyard workers, under the direction of Dr. Garfield, which opened to the general public in 1945.
  • 1946 - 1954 : Appointed general manager of Kaiser-Frazer Corporation automobile plant at Willow Run, Michigan and elected president of Kaiser Motors Corporation.
  • 1954: Moved to the Oakland, California headquarters of the Kaiser Companies as the organization expanded, to share management responsibilities with his father, Henry J. Kaiser.
  • 1956: Elected president of Kaiser Industries Corporation, the parent company, with his father as chairman of the board and his younger brother, Henry J. Kaiser, Jr., as vice president.
  • 1959: Negotiated with labor attorney Arthur Goldberg for a settlement with United Steelworkers Union at Kaiser Steel's Fontana plant during the national steel strike. Helped create the Long Range Sharing Plan at the Fontana mill.
  • 1961 - 1963 : Served President John F. Kennedy as a member of the Missile Sites Labor Commission, the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and as an incorporator of the Communications Satellite Corporation in 1962.
  • 1961: Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. died in Oakland.
  • 1966: Named National Chairman of United Nations Day by President Lyndon Johnson.
  • 1966 - 1968 : Selected by President Lyndon Johnson to head the President's Committee on Urban Housing, and named chairman of the board of incorporators of the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships.
  • 1967: Henry J. Kaiser died in Honolulu on August 24. Elected chairman of the board of Kaiser Industries Corporation, head of all operating divisions, subsidiaries and affiliated companies (including Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Kaiser Steel Corporation, Kaiser Cement and Gypsum Corporation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals), and a trustee of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • 1969: Named Alumnus of the Year and awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree by the University of California, Berkeley. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Johnson for his contributions to the development of low and moderate income housing.
  • 1970: Elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • 1974: Sue Mead Kaiser died in Moscow on June 24.
  • 1975: Appointed by President Gerald Ford to the President's Advisory Committee on Refugees. Married Nina McCormick, his long-time executive secretary, on February 1.
  • 1977: Oversaw the voluntary liquidation of Kaiser Industries Corporation.
  • 1978 - 1980 : Designated Chairman Emeritus and honorary director of Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation and Kaiser Cement Corporation in 1978; of Kaiser Steel Corporation in 1979; and of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in 1980.
  • 1981: Died at Moffitt Hospital in San Francisco, California, on December 11.

From the guide to the Edgar F. Kaiser Papers, 1886-1981, (The Bancroft Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Homer D. Crotty papers and addenda, 1859-2011 The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
referencedIn Land, Emory Scott, 1879-1971. Emory Scott Land papers, 1901-1972. Library of Congress
creatorOf Edgar F. Kaiser Papers, 1886-1981 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Kaiser, Edgar F. (Edgar Fosburgh), 1908-1981. Edgar F. Kaiser papers, 1886-1981. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Blair Moody Papers, 1928-1954, 1934-1952 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Kaiser, Henry J., 1917-1961. Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. papers, 1937-1961. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Henry J. Kaiser Company. Henry J. Kaiser and Kaiser Company foreign operations and visits [graphic] UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Eugene E. Trefethen, Jr. Papers, ca. 1930-1980 Bancroft Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Crotty, Homer D. person
associatedWith Henry J. Kaiser Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Kaiser, Henry J., 1917-1961. person
associatedWith Kaiser Industries Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Kaiser Motors Corporation. corporateBody
correspondedWith Land, Emory Scott, 1879-1971. person
associatedWith Moody, Blair, 1902-1954 person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Trefethen, Eugene E. (Eugene Edgar), 1909- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Willow Run (Mich.)


Birth 1908-07-29

Death 1981-12-11


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