George Chaffee Dillon, a successful businessman and Harvard University graduate, died Feb. 16 in North Chatham. He was 90. He passed away peacefully at Liberty Commons Broad Reach Healthcare facility, after a long bout with Alzheimer's disease.
A native of Independence , Mo., Dillon began his happy association with Cape Cod through his wife, Joan Kent, who had family in the area. The couple met in Cambridge after Dillon graduated from Harvard Business School after World War ll. They were married on Sept. 11, 1948, at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, and held their reception at the Whalewalk Farm, owned by Joan's parents. The Dillons settled in Kansas City, spending their summers on the Cape. They had three children, who survive their father – Kent of Dennis, Mass.; Courtney of Portland, Ore.; and Emily of Brewster, Mass. Joan Dillon died in 2009 at age 84.
George Dillon, after serving in the Navy and rising to the rank of Lt. Commander during World War II, earned a Master's degree in business from Harvard and soon embarked on a noteworthy career.
His first job was with the J Bruening & Co. accounting firm in Kansas City. In 1949, he moved to Butler Manufacturing, where he rose from assistant secretary to secretary in three years, gaining the position of president before becoming the chairman of the board. During that period, Butler grew from $35 million in annual sales to $400 million. Butler was 40% employee-owned, so Dillon was especially proud to help build the company to a leader in its field of pre-engineered buildings and automated farm equipment.
Later, Dillon was on the board of Johns Manville Corporation, which asked him to become the chairman of the board to help manage the historic "Toxic Torque" bank notice in the 1980s - a first in the business world that ensured funding for victims of working with asbestos during the war who were suffering from asbesteosis mezzo felioma. The use of Chapter 11 bankruptcy was a milestone case that is described in many business-school textbooks. The Travelers Insurance company settled the claim, and the Manville trust that was set up is still in effect today.
Upon retirement, Dillon moved to the family's summer home on Cape Cod in North Chatham, and became a board member of the Cape and Islands Chamber Music Festival, Eldredge Public Library, Chatham Conservation Foundation, as well as being on St. Christopher's Episcopal Church Vestry and Finance committee. He was also a member of the Eastward Ho Country Club, where he played golf regularly.
Funeral services will be held Saturday March 2, at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Chatham at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, a nonprofit establishment for helping patients and families to cope with Alzheimers: http://www.alzfdn.org/.
George Dillon's brain and eyes have been donated to Massachusetts General Hospital for their ongoing Alzheimers research.
Johns Manville Board, when he also authored a paper on the role of corporate governance http://www.umkc.edu/whmckc/PUBLICATIONS/MCP/MCPPDF/Dillon-3-12-80.pdf
that was published by Midwest Research Institute, where he was Chairman of the Board and became a lifetime trustee.
Board of Phelps Dodge Corporation
Board of Newhall Land & Farming Company
Board of E A Juffali & Bros, Auto and Truck Manufacturers
President's Committee under Ronald Reagan
Board of Overseers at Harvard College and Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development
Public Trustee of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota
Kansas City Symphony and Chamber Music Orchestra sponsor
Kansas City Club, Kansas City Country Club, and the Kansas City River Club
Eastward Ho Country Club
He enjoyed golf, tennis, travel, culture, crosswords, socializing with friends and bringing his family together.