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Richard K. Davidson

Born: January 9, 1942, in Allen, Kansas

Richard K. Davidson was born January 9, 1942, in Allen, Kansas, to Richard and Thelma Rees Davidson. His father, a farmer who also did soil conservation work, died when Dick Davidson was six years old. To help cover college expenses, Davidson began working nights and weekends as a brakeman/conductor with the Missouri Pacific Railroad at the age of 18. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Washburn University in 1966. His work with the Missouri Pacific continued. In 1968 at the age of 26 he began the youngest superintendent with the company. He was transferred to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he helped oversee the upgrade of the railroad.

Davidson was transferred to the company headquarters in St. Louis where he was named vice president of operations in 1976. When the Union pacific merged with the Missouri pacific and Western pacific railroad in 1982, Davidson was promoted to vice president of operations of the combined companies. He was appointed president and CEO in 1991, then chairman and CEO in 1997. Davidson stepped down as CEO in 2006 and retired as chairman in 2007. He then served as director of the Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Impala Asset management. He served on the Association of American Railroads board, chaired the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, and served as director and trustee of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Awards Foundation and Washburn University Endowment Association.

He was named to the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in 2002, the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, and the Nebraska Business hall of Fame. The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas named him Kansan of the Year for 2012.

Entry: Davidson, Richard K.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2013

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.