Cyrus Eaton was a champion of free speech who spoke three times at the City Club, a rather exceptional circumstance for someone other than an elected official. His ideas were controversial primarily because they were so far ahead of his time. In 1954, he spoke of employee stock ownership and four years later articulated the need for rapprochement with the Soviet Union.
Born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Mr. Eaton came to Cleveland in 1906. While still a student of theology at McMasters University, he was invited to Cleveland by his uncle, the pastor of John D. Rockefeller’s church. Rockefeller hired Eaton and inspired him to be an industrialist who rejoiced in hard work and strenuous play. Mr. Eaton joined the City Club in 1916 and was a member for over six decades.
An innovative businessman, he built enterprises in steel, coal, iron ore, railroads, lake shipping, rubber, paint, utilities and finance. He was also a statesman dedicated to the quest for international friendship, disarmament and peace. In 1994, the Pugwash Conferences, which Mr. Eaton helped found, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
As a philosopher, he brought together scholars and scientists of many countries to share ideas and explore ways to co-exist peacefully. He was a farmer who bred Shorthorn beef cattle and raised waterfowl to be released into the wilderness. As an outdoorsman, he believed everyone should have access to trails, woodlands and recreation places. Eaton was also dedicated to Cleveland schools, industry, culture and growth.
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