FINDLAY, Ohio (May 21, 2012)—Former Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. President William Fitzgerald died May 18 at age 85.
Fitzgerald served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He graduated from the University of Akron in 1950 and later graduated from Harvard's Advanced Management School in 1969. He took a position with Cooper Tire as a salesman in 1953 and rose through the ranks to president and chief operating officer before retiring in 1991.
He is largely credited with the rise of Cooper Tire from a small regional manufacturer to a Fortune 500 company. He was inducted into the Tire Industry Hall of Fame in 1992.
Fitzgerald initiated the first Community Development Foundation, endowed the William T. and Rita B. Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Akron and financially supported numerous schools and organizations, including St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School, the University of Akron, Boy Scouts of America, the University of Findlay, Blanchard Valley Hospital, Birchaven and the Hancock County Historical Society.
Survivors include his wife, Rita; sons, Thomas, Dennis (Anita), John (Sally) and James P. (Denise); six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.