Frederick Hilmer "Pappy" Rohr
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Frederick Hilmer "Pappy" Rohr
President, Chairman of the Board
Written by Sue Poole
As an employee at Ryan Aeronautical Company Fred Rohr was a sheet metal foreman working on Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. His team hand-formed the cowling, fairings, and gas and oil tanks. He was one of 'the Nighthawks' that worked many nights to complete the final assembly of Lindbergh's plane. Fred later remarked "I'm proud because the first cowling I ever made is in the Smithsonian Institution, I mean the cowling on the Spirit of St. Louis. I made it and it's in the Smithsonian" (Rohr, 1990).
"Fred Rohr had worked for Boeing between 1932 and 1935, during which time he had helped set up its drop hammer shop" (Kitchin 1952) and came up with the power package idea. Shortly thereafter he returned to San Diego as Factory Manager at Ryan Aeronautical Company with the idea of a feeder plant that persisted (Austin, Summer 1965, p. 6).
Fred Rohr and four of his associates found Rohr Aircraft Corporation on August 6, 1940 in his San Diego garage. Rohr served as President and General Manager. He believed that there "was a clear role in this surging aircraft industry for a manufacturing subcontractor that could provide the prime aircraft builders with major structural assemblies" (Rohr, 1990).
In 1942, Fred and his wife Shirley move to a two story Colonial Revival home in Point Loma, California (OB Rag, 2023).
He was President and General Manager until 1956, when he became Chairman of the Board of Directors and and Chief Executive Officer (Austin. “18 - and Still Growing: New Orders and Expanded Facilities Send Year’s Sales to Record Total.” 1958).
Fred H. Rohr developed and patented the Rohr Tilting Arc, a device that provided "a better and safer way of handling engines" (Stell 1952).
In 1958, Fred H. Rohr was re-elected to Rohr's Board of Directors as Chairman (“Stockholders Meet: Pension Amendment Gets Approval.” 1958).
Mr. Rohr was Chairman of the Board from 1956 until his death in 1965 (Rohr, 1990).
In March of 2023, Fred and Shirley's home in Point Loma, California is designated as historic by the City of San Diego Historical Resources Board (OB Rag, 2023).
Source: A Pioneer in Aeronautics, 1940-1990. 1990.
References cited (using Turabian):
“Former Rohr Home in Point Loma Designated as Historic.” OB Rag. Last modified May 3, 2023. Accessed June 12, 2023. https://obrag.org/2023/05/former-rohr-home-in-point-loma-designated-as-historic/#comments.
Kitchin, A. F. What We Do for Boeing: Quality of Rohr Aircraft Power Packs Brings New Orders for New Products. Edited by Edward T. Austin. The AeROHRcrafter 2, no. 9 (1952): 3–4.
A Pioneer in Aeronautics, 1940-1990. 1990. Chula Vista, California: Rohr Industries, Inc.
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Contact Sue with questions or comments. Website address: rohrmemories.com
Last updated: 06-11-2023
Rohr Aircraft ribbon cutting. Fred Rohr is on the far right.
Photo: Sam Sepulveda private collection, 7/25/2013