Legal mind, industrialist, and investment banker, Charles C. Tillinghast served as the chairman of Trans World Airlines (T.W.A.). Born in 1911 in Saxtons River, Vermont, he was the son of Charles C. and Adelaide (Shaw) Tillinghast. He graduated from the Horace Mann School in the Riverdale section of Bronx, New York in 1928, and then from Brown University four years later. As a Brown student, he played center on the football team.
Upon his graduation from Columbia Law School in 1935, he worked as a lawyer on Wall Street, and then for Thomas E. Dewey, the Manhattan District Attorney. He returned to his original firm, Hughes, Hubbard, Blair & Reed, and was named partner in 1942. From his lucrative law practice, he then became vice president and director of the Detroit auto parts enterprise Bendix Corporation, which became an important sector of Allied Signal Corporation.
Tillinghast earned his greatest fame, however, as the chief executive and then chairman of Trans World Airlines (T.W.A.) Earning praise for his steady, prescient guidance during the oil crisis of 1973-1974, he was able to circumvent possible bankruptcy caused by rising oil prices coupled with declining sales. Following his retirement from T.W.A. in 1976, he served as chairman of White, Weld & Company, a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch.
His business acumen was equaled by his contributions to higher education. Serving as a trustee of Brown University in 1954 and named its fifteenth chancellor in 1967, Tillinghast was also recognized with an honorary degree in 1967, and the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 1982.
Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. succumbed to heart disease and died on July 25, 1998 at the age of eighty-seven. His vast contributions to the business and educational communities, especially his alma mater, were recognized by the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1975.
Debra A. Mulligan