Day 88 - Walter Reuther
Walter Philip Reuther was an American labor union leader, who made the United Automobile Workers a major force not only in the auto industry but also in the Democratic Party in the mid 20th century. He was a socialist in the early 1930s and became a leading liberal and supporter of the New Deal coalition.
On May 9, 1970, Reuther, his wife May, architect Oscar Stonorov, and also a bodyguard, the pilot and co-pilot were killed when their chartered Lear-Jet crashed in flames at 9:33 p.m. Michigan time. The plane, arriving from Detroit in rain and fog, was on final approach to the Pellston, Michigan, airstrip near the union's recreational and educational facility at Black Lake, Michigan.
In October 1968, a year and a half before the fatal crash, Reuther and his brother Victor were almost killed in a small private plane as it approached Dulles airport. Both incidents are amazingly similar; the altimeter in the fatal crash was believed to have malfunctioned. When Victor Reuther was interviewed many years after the fatal crash he said "I and other family members are convinced that both the fatal crash and the near fatal one in 1968 were not accidental." The FBI still refuses to turn over nearly 200 pages of documents pertaining to Walter Reuther's death, and correspondence between field offices and J. Edgar Hoover. Reuther had earlier survived an April 1948 incident in which he was hit by a shotgun blast through his kitchen window. Reuther happened to turn towards his wife, and was hit in the arm instead of the chest and heart. The crime was never solved.
Walter Reuther appears in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.
I-696 In Metro Detroit is named the Walter P. Reuther Freeway.
A hospital in Westland, MI is named for him. Located at 30901 Palmer Road.