Clayton R. Gaylord, chairman of The Ingersoll Foundation and the first chairman of The Rockford Institute, died on January 3. He had a remarkable career as industrialist, civic leader, and philanthropist.

In 1958, he became president of The Ingersoll Milling Machine Company, the firm that has been owned and led by his family since his grandfather founded it in 1889. In the highly competitive machine tool industry, Ingersoll has been a pacesetter, its superior management, engineering, and inventiveness turning out products that match the best that German, Japanese, and American competitors can offer.

Concern for the well-being of the nation and the community has been a consistent feature of Ingersoll’s leadership. It was one of the first firms to set a policy of allocating five percent of its net profits to philanthropy. Dismayed by the ever growing acceptance of the welfare state and the federal control of American industry, the Gaylords were early patrons of Leonard Read’s Foundation for Economic Education. Forty years ago, they arranged for FEE to conduct periodic three-day local seminars so that middle and top management could come to understand fully the workings and the requirements of the free market economy.

In the early 1980’s, Clayton and his brothers concluded that economic education was an ineffective means of slowing the growth of the all-encompassing federal bureaucracy. It is, they realized, the opinion-making, value-forming systems of the culture that determine the attitudes, behavior, and political affinities of the people. The Rockford Institute was therefore asked to consider reshaping the program of The Ingersoll Foundation toward cultural objectives. Initially more than a little surprised by the Institute’s recommendation to invest a large part of the Foundation’s funds in creating major literary and scholarly prizes, the Gaylords soon came to perceive the importance and the potential impact of recognizing authors and scholars whose works reflect and reinforce the ideals of Western civilization.

Clayton involved himself in a broad range of activities. He was an avid hunter and for many years worked with organizations devoted to protecting the wetlands and improving the environment for waterfowl. He was active in local philanthropy and supported the National Right to Work Committee. He was also very influential in Republican politics and served as chairman of the area Goldwater for President committee.

Clayton Gaylord was an exemplar of the civic-minded, intelligent, generous, and dedicated leadership so greatly needed by every community, but seldom encountered today. In dealing with his fellow man, Clayton was kind, unassuming, and always ready with an encouraging word. The Rockford Institute was richly blessed in his service as director, benefactor, and faithful partisan.