Automobile manufacturing executive. Born: 1940.
Robert Eaton was born in Colorado and moved to Arkansas City as a boy. He bought his first car at the age of 11 for $10 and spent another $15 to get it to run. He got his driver's license at 14. Eaton earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas in 1963 and joined General Motors Corporation. He held a number of engineering positions before he became president of GM Europe in 1988. In 1992 he joined Chrysler as vice chairman and chief operating officer. In 1992 he was elected chairman and chief executive officer following Lee Iacocca.
In 1998 Eaton led Chrysler into a merger with Daimler-Benz to form Daimler-Chrysler, the world's fifth largest automobile concern. Eaton retired as Chairman of Daimler-Chrysler in 2000. Eventually, the merger did not succeed. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Eaton has contributed greatly to KU and a major School of Engineering building is named after him. He was elected to the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2005.
Entry: Eaton, Robert
Author: G. Joseph Pierron
Author information: Judge Pierron serves on the Kansas Court of Appeals and has an interest in Kansas history.
Date Created: November 2012
Date Modified: November 2012
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