Elected in 1965
“For outstanding creative missile and systems engineering.”
BY TOM EVERHART
RUBEN F. METTLER, a guiding force in the American aerospace industry and former CEO of TRW, died on May 23, 2006, at the age of 82.
Ruben, or Rube as he was generally called, was born in Shafter, California, a small town about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, on February 23, 1924. While doing chores on the farm where he grew up with nine siblings, he first experienced the “hierarchy of duties” in a complex organization, which probably planted the seeds of his future CEO managerial style. “I don’t know that a large family directly translates into being comfortable in a corporate setting,” he once told a journalist, “but there is no question that a large family is not a likely place to find a highly egocentric person.”
A bright, ambitious student who pushed himself to excel, Rube won a scholarship to Stanford and began his undergraduate career there in 1941, intending to study law. However, with the attack on Pearl Harbor that December, he changed his plans. Expecting to be drafted, he enlisted in the Navy at the end of his freshman year. Because he had shown an aptitude for calculus and chemistry at Stanford, the Navy sent him to Caltech, where he studied radar and electronics in the V12 training program and received a bachelor’s degree in 1944. He liked the experience so well that, after specializing in radar