Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Flora Haines Loughead - Mother of Lockheed Corporation
[Loughead gravestone photo by Michael Colbruno]
Flora Haines Loughead (1855-1943) was born in Wisconsin to John Penly and Mary Haines. Loughead was a woman ahead of her time. She was a journalist, married three times, had five children by two husbands, worked her own mining claims, farmed thirty-five acres, wrote many articles, short stories and more than a dozen books. Today, she is probably best remembered as the “Mother of Lockheed Corporation.”
Her first marriage to architect Charles E. Aponnyi ended in divorce after years of physical abuse. The marriage yielded three children, May Hope, Victor Rudolph and John Haines, who died as an infant. In 1886 she married John Loughead (pronounced Lockheed), who adopted the children. Loughead was of Scots-Irish descent, the name indicating that his family lived at the head of a lake. John and Flora had two sons, Malcolm and Allan. Her third husband was David A. Gutierrez, of whom little is known.
In 1902, Flora moved the children, without her husband, to a thirty-five-acre ranch near Alma, California where she raised grapes, prunes and other fruits.
At the turn of the century, making a living on a ranch of this size was difficult, so she began writing feature articles for the San Francisco Chronicle and Sunset magazine. She also embarked on a successful book-writing career, writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her novels included The Man Who Was Guilty, The Black Curtain, and The Abandoned Claim--the last one a children's book featuring a girl heroine named "Hope" after her daughter. She also wrote two standard library reference works, The Libraries of California and The Dictionary of Given Names. She had a scientific as well as a domestic bent, writing The Natural Sciences and Quick Cooking, the latter dedicated to "busy housewives."
In 1912, her sons Allan and Malcolm Loughead founded the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company. This company was renamed the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and located in Santa Barbara, California. In 1926, following the failure of Loughead, Allan Loughead formed the Lockheed Aircraft Company (the spelling was changed to match its phonetic pronunciation) in Hollywood, California. In 1929 Lockheed sold out to Detroit Aircraft Corporation.
In her eighties, Flora returned to mining and she prospected for opals in mines near the Nevada-California border. Living alone, , she supplemented her income by sealing as many as three dozen opals in small, half-round glass paperweights that sold in department stores for up to five dollars each.
This indomitable mother of an aviation family died on January 27, 1943, the apparent victim of heart failure.
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