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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
STANLEY HILLER JR. 1924–2006
Elected in 1999
“For leadership in helicopter development with great value to human life, safety, and quality.”
BY JIM MCCROSKEY
STANLEY HILLER JR., inventor, helicopter pioneer, business leader, and founder of the Hiller Aviation Museum, died April 20, 2006, at the age of 81, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Hiller was born November 15, 1924, in San Francisco to the late Opal Perkins Hiller and Stanley Hiller Sr., who was also a businessman, engineer, aviator, and inventor. Stanley grew up in Berkeley, California. On May 25, 1946, he married Carolyn Balsdon, whom he met at the University of California.
In 1944, while he was still a teenager, Stanley Hiller Jr. designed, built, and taught himself to fly an experimental helicopter. He then formed his own design and manufacturing company that produced more than 3,000 helicopters for military and commercial markets worldwide. The company also produced many prototypes of other innovative vertical-flight aircraft. After leading his own company for more than 20 years, Mr. Hiller began a second career in 1966 when he created the Hiller Investment Company, a management consulting firm that specialized in nonhostile takeovers and corporate revivals of faltering U.S. companies to help them become innovative, flexible, and profitable.
Even as a child, Stanley Hiller Jr. had a prodigious talent for invention and innovation. Sitting in his father’s lap, he learned to fly before he was 10 years old. At age 12, he started