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THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IOWA

University of Iowa Press Digital Editions
Maytag, Lewis Bergman ("L. B.")
(August 24, 1888–August 8, 1967)

and

Maytag, Elmer Henry ("E. H.")

(September 15, 1883–July 20, 1940), sons of

Maytag, Frederick Louis ("F. L.")

(July 14, 1857–March 26, 1937), and Elmer's eldest son,

Frederick Louis ("Fred II") Maytag

(January 8, 1911-November 4, 1962)

—each president of the Maytag Company—made significant contributions to the success of the company.

    F. L. Maytag was born near Elgin, Illinois, the eldest son of Daniel W. and Amelia (Toeneboehn) Maytag, natives of Germany, who were married at Independence, Iowa, in 1856. The family moved to Marshall County, Iowa, in 1868, settling on a farm that remains under Maytag ownership.

    F. L. started working on the family farm at an early age and had only minimal public education. About 1880 he left the farm and started working in a Newton implement business; a year later he was half-owner. He sold his interest in that endeavor and bought a lumberyard in Newton. In 1893 he became a partner in the Parsons Band Cutter & Self Feeder Company. The first washing machine was added to the company's line in 1907. In 1909 the Maytag Company was organized to produce washing machines. F. L., who stressed that quality was more important than low prices, served as president of the company for about 12 years.

    In 1882 F. L. married Dena Bergman, and they had four children: Elmer H., Louise "Polly" (Smith), Lewis B. "Bud," and Freda "Kit" (Sparey). In 1921 F. L. turned the presidency over to his second son, Lewis Bergman Maytag, but continued as chairman of the board of directors until his death.

    F. L. was a major investor and officer in the Maytag-Mason Automobile Company, the South Dakota Railway Co., the Iowa Mausoleum Company, and other ventures. He represented Jasper County in the Iowa Senate for 10 years, served one term as Newton's mayor, and was Iowa's first director of the budget.

    F. L. gave Newton a park, complete with swimming pool and band shell; provided for buildings for the Salvation Army and the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA); and contributed generously to Newton churches. He died in 1937 in Los Angeles, where he had a winter home. He provided bequests to many of his employees in his will.

    Lewis Bergman "L. B."Maytag was born in Newton. A 1910 mechanical engineering graduate of Iowa State College, L. B. began his full-time employment at Maytag Company in 1910, was named a director in 1911, a vice president in 1918, and president in 1921, when F. L. decided to spend more time in Chicago on projects not related to the washing machine business. L. B. used his mechanical engineering knowledge to promote a vastly improved washing machine design, the major features being a polished cast aluminum tub and an agitator mounted on the bottom of the tub. L. B. also recognized the importance of a strong sales and marketing program for the company's success.

    In 1924 L. B. married Catherine Beckman, and they had four children: Lewis Jr., James, David, and Catherine (Edborg). In 1926 L. B. resigned as president and director of the company to pursue other interests, and his brother Elmer assumed the presidency. In 1934 L. B. and his family moved permanently to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was active in business and social circles. At the request of Fred II, L. B. returned to the May-tag board in 1940 after the death of E. H., and he served as a trusted adviser to his nephew for 23 years. In 1966 he resigned from the board in favor of his son Lewis Jr.

    L. B., known nationally in golfing circles, was one of the founders of the Augusta National Golf Club. In 1955 he was selected to direct the construction of the U.S. Air Force Academy golf course. His "Sedgefields Plantation" at Union Springs, Alabama, was home to the National Amateur Free-For-All [bird dog] Field Trials. He died in 1967 at his home in Colorado Springs.

    Elmer Henry "E. H."Maytag was born in Newton. He attended the Newton schools and spent two years at the University of Illinois. He became treasurer of the company in 1909 and in 1920 was elected secretary and trea surer. He married Ora Kennedy in 1909, and they had four children: Frederick Louis "Fred II," Mary Louise (McCahill), Robert E. Sr., and Elizabeth (Revuyk).

    In addition to guiding the Maytag Company very successfully through expansion and building a sound financial base that enabled the company to weather the difficult years of the Great Depression, E. H. quietly devoted considerable time and energy to bettering the lives of his employees and fellow towns people. The Jasper County Savings Bank, of which he was president, provided credit to business and professional people and to area farmer E. H. instructed bank employees to give the borrowers every opportunity to keep their property and dignity. There is no record of anyone being thrown off a farm or out of a home if they made a sincere effort to meet their responsibilities. At one point, when the factory was closed because of a lack of orders, E. H. opened the factory and paid wages out of his own pocket so that the families of employ ees would have a happier Christmas. During the Depression, he anonymously paid for thousands of dollars worth of groceries and other necessities for townspeople who were in need.

    E. H. studied carefully before beginning any new project. The Maytag Dairy Farm developed from one dairy cow that, in 1919, provided milk for his children, to a large Holstein-Friesiandairy herd that won many awards, to a 4,200-acre farming enterprise, to the actual dairy operation that now produces the world-renowned Maytag Blue Cheese. The farming and dairy enterprises were as close as E. H. got to having a hobby.

    E. H. died in 1940 at the age of 56 at "Ceylon Court," his summer home at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. His 29-year-old son, Frederick Louis Maytag II, became president of the Maytag Company and assumed his father's positions in his other enterprises. Fred II was a graduate of Culver Military Academy and the University of Wisconsin. Married in 1934, he and his wife, the former Ellen Pray, were the parents of four children: Ellen (Egger), Frederick III "Fritz," Martha (Peterson), and Kenneth.

    Production of washing machines ceased when World War II began, and the Maytag facilities were converted to military-related production. Manufacturing expertise gained during the war placed the company in a strong position to resume appliance production and to develop an expanded home laundry product line. Fred recognized the abilities of others and built competent management teams that continued the successful operation of each of the companies he headed when he began to relinquish some of his own responsibilities.

    Fred's personal interests included photography, scuba diving, duck hunting, and piloting his own plane. He served in the Iowa Senate from 1946 to 1952, was active in the Republican Party at the state and national level, and was active in Scouting. He served as chairman of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation, was a director of Ducks Unlimited and the Freedom Foundation, and served on the board of Grinnell College. In addition to being chairman of the board of the Maytag Company, president of Maytag Co. Ltd. of Winnipeg, and president of the Maytag Dairy Farms, Inc., he was a member of the boards of directors of Northwestern Bell and Minneapolis-Honeywell and chair of the board of the Jasper County Savings Bank and the Kellogg Savings Bank.

    Fred Maytag II died of cancer in Newton in 1962 at the age of 51. His will established the Fred Maytag Family Foundation, which has supported many worthwhile projects.
Sources include Robert E. Vance, "All the Days of My Life: The Memoirs of Robert E. 'Bob' Vance" (1988), a typewritten monograph that presents Bob Vance's story of his life as an employee and friend of F. L., E. H., and Fred II. Bob began his Maytag career in 1926 and retired in 1967, having served as vice president, corporate secretary, and director. He served on the boards of the Maytag Dairy Farms, the Jasper County Savings Bank, and the Kellogg Savings Bank and was a trustee of the Fred Maytag Family Foundation and the Maytag Foundation. The Newton Daily News, Des Moines Register, and Des Moines Tribune carried lengthy obituaries on F. L., E. H., and Fred II.
Contributor: John C. Daehler

Cite as: Daehler, John c. "Maytag, Lewis Bergman ("L. B.")" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 13 December 2017