Roy D. Chapin, Jr., Former Head of American Motors
Corporation And Automotive Industry Leader, Dies
NANTUCKET, Mass., Aug. 6 Roy D. Chapin, Jr., former
chairman and chief executive officer of American Motors Corporation, died
Aug. 5 of heart failure. He was 85 years old.
Chapin was instrumental in introducing many successful lines of cars, and
in 1970, he spearheaded the acquisition of Jeep Corporation from Kaiser
Chapin was born Sept. 21, 1915, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., to Inez Tiedeman
and Roy D. Chapin, one of the founders of the Hudson Motor Car Company. He
graduated from the Los Alamos School in Los Alamos, N.M., the Hotchkiss School
in Lakeville, Conn., and graduated with honors from Yale University in 1937.
Chapin entered the automotive industry as an experimental engineer with
Hudson in 1938. Following the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson in 1954,
he became assistant treasurer and a director of American Motors Corporation.
Chapin subsequently served as treasurer, vice president and executive vice
president before becoming AMC chairman and chief executive officer in January
1967. Chapin retired as chairman and chief executive officer in 1977 but
continued in a leadership role at AMC as chairman of the board for one
additional year and served as a director until 1987.
"My father's efforts to integrate Jeep into AMC were a major factor in the
success of today's sports utility vehicle (SUV) market," said his son, William
R. Chapin. "AMC dealers were the first with a line of SUV products starting
in the early 1970s."
In addition to his distinguished career at AMC, Chapin also served on the
board of directors of Whirlpool Corp., American Natural Resources Corp.,
Coastal Corp and Gould Corp.
Long active in the field of conservation, Chapin served as a trustee of a
number of organizations dedicated to the preservation of the nation's natural
resources, including the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed
Grouse Society, and Trout Unlimited. He also was actively involved with the
Boy Scouts of America and served as president of the Fontinalis Club.
Chapin's hobbies included hunting and fishing, ranching and book
collecting. He particularly enjoyed hunting at his duck marsh in Canada and
trout fishing at the Fontinalis Club in Vanderbilt, Mich.
Chapin is survived by his wife Loise of Geyserville, Calif., Grosse Pointe
Farms, Mich., and Nantucket, Mass.; sons, Roy D. III, William R. and
Christopher K.; daughter, Penny Chapin de Estrada; step-son, Robert L.
Wickser, Jr.; step-daughters, Alexandra Balantine, Lita Toland, and Hope
Wickser; six grandchildren; and four great grandchildren. He also is survived
by brothers, John C. and Daniel; and sisters, Joan C. Hutton and Marian C.
A funeral service is planned for Aug. 11 at 4:30 p.m. PT at St. Paul's
Church, 209 Mathison, Healdsburg, Calif. A memorial service will be held at
Christ Church, Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the
Atlantic Salmon Federation, P.O. Box 807, Calais, Maine. Please contact Mary
Jo Barrett at 207-725-2833 for more information.