"Billy" Durant typified the courage of American business. He was charismatic, arbitrary and impenetrable.
On March 18, 1947, at 2:15 A.M. , William Crapo Durant, founder of General Motors and Chevrolet and the “leading bull” in the great stock-market boom and crash of the late 1920’s, died at his New York City apartment with his wife and nurse in attendance. His last fortune had evaporated in the Depression of the 1930’s, and he had been an invalid for several years. People were already beginning to confuse him with Will Durant, the popular historian of philosophy. Within a few weeks Henry Ford, whose automotive career strikingly paralleled Durant’s, was to die too—rich and famous but also ridiculed and despised. “Billy “Durant, on the other hand, left a public image that was clouded but untarnished. A eulogy in the Detroit Free Press said : “There was nothing of the ruthless pirate in Durant for all of his financial manipulations. Despite his fortunes and his power he was always a simple, human person, with a consciousness of the problems of the little fellow. … W. C. Durant typified the courage of American business, of free enterprise and initiative. If all of his principles are no longer acceptable, there are elements in his character that America badly needs today.” Read more »