April 28 – Happy Birthday Enders Voorhees

enders2The Voorhees name is one of the oldest in both North America and Amsterdam. Steven Coerte Van Voorhees came to America from Holland in April of 1660 and settled in what is now Bergen County, New Jersey. His grandson Hendrick, moved north to Montgomery County in 1782 and became a prosperous farmer. His offspring and their’s branched off into local banking and industry and the Voorhees name became synonymous with success in this Mohawk Valley community for the next century and a half. Both Voorhees Road and Voorhees Street are named after the clan. But it was a family member who left the Rug City after graduating from college who became the most famous and influential Vorhees of all.

Enders McClumpha Voorhees was born on April 28, 1891.He was the fifth child of   Jame Voorhees who had succeeded his own father as President of Amsterdam’s Farmer’s National Bank. With so many siblings ahead of him in the pecking order, when Enders began his college career at Dartmouth, it was unclear where or how he fit into the family’s succession plans at either the bank or the knitting firm they controlled.  Sure enough, after he graduated from the Ivy League school in 1914, instead of returning to his hometown he accepted a position as an accountant with a firm in Boston and a year later took a job with a New York City importing and exporting firm that sent him around the world. But it was a huge $100,000 inheritance he received from his father’s sister, Sarah Voorhees in 1917, that made him independently wealthy and most likely turned his status as an ex-Amsterdam resident into a permanent one.

Back then a guy with a hundred grand in his bank account could afford to be very choosy about where he worked and very demanding when it came to his job description. Voorhees just kept moving up the corporate ladder, from company-to-company. He became assistant controller for the United States Rubber Company, then got into industrial engineering and in 1927 began a decade long career at Johns-Manville Corporation that saw him rise to the position of Vice President.

In 1937, he went to work for the United States Steel Corporation, at the time the most powerful corporation on Earth. During his seventeen years with US Steel, he rose to the position of Chief Financial Officer, making him one of the most influential and highest paid corporate executives in this country.

Voorhees married his wife Blanche in 1923 and though the couple never had any children of their own, they took the son and daughter of a close divorced friend into their home and raised the two as their own. They had a permanent residence in Manhattan, and vacation homes in Florida and on the St. Lawrence seaway.

After he retired he started the Voorhees Technical Institute in Manhattan, a trade school that was eventually absorbed by the City College of New York. He also continued to support his family. One of the conditions of his Aunt Sarah’s bequest to him was that he assist Voorhees family members in need and Enders did that faithfully until the day he died in April of 1980, just two weeks short of his 89th birthday.

 

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