Roy Arthur Hunt was born on August 3, 1881 in Nashua, New Hampshire. He was the only child of Alfred Epher Hunt and Maria Tyler McQuesten. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Pittsburgh where Alfred later founded the Pittsburgh Reduction Company.
Roy was eighteen when his father died, an event that deepened his resolve to get a good education, a tradition in the Hunt family for generations past. Roy was finishing his third year at Yale when he wrote to Arthur Vining Davis, then general manager of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company. Dated May 25, 1902, Roy’s letter said:
“As it is drawing toward the close of the college year and we talked over my trying to work this summer if I could get the job, I write to inquire if anything has turned up. It does not matter what it is, from digging a hole to emptying paper baskets. Also the location is immaterial, from the suburbs to the smallest hamlet in Canada to the center of a city.”
Davis put Roy to work as a machinist’s helper in the New Kensington plant. After graduating from college in 1903, Roy became a mill clerk at the company’s New Kensington plant. This began Roy’s lifetime career with Alcoa.
By 1907, when the company changed its name to Alcoa, Roy had worked his way up to Assistant Superintendent. In 1914, Roy joined Alcoa’s Board of Directors and served as General Superintendent of the company’s fabricating plants, where he helped accelerate production of aluminum for the war. In 1918, Roy was promoted to Vice President of both the fabricating and the smelting plants. Ten years later, he was elected President of Alcoa. He served in that position until 1951 when he was named Chairman of the Executive Committee, a position he held until 1963. Roy remained a member of the Alcoa Board of Directors until his death on October 21, 1966.
Roy described the company’s history and his own personal philosophy in a public address, Aluminum Pioneers. He was patriotic and intensely interested in the welfare of the country, never failing to speak out for the cause of liberty. At a Tri-State Industrial Association dinner, he said (quoting an unknown source), “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, never purchased by a fulfilled contract, but always on a pay-as-you-go basis.” He was also a great believer in free enterprise and fair competition.
Roy was self-effacing and had a deep-seated sense of humor. Unlike most businessmen, he never took time for hobbies or spectator sports. His chief interest outside the company was his family. He did, however, enjoy the arts, especially music. His artistic judgments were strictly his own. “I like what I like, and I’m going to keep on liking it,” he said. “I’m not going to be regimented.”
Roy was also a director of Mellon National Bank and Trust Company, the National Union Fire Insurance Company, and Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. He held honorary degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, Oberlin College, and Grove City College. He was a trustee of Magee Women’s Hospital, the Pittsburgh Skin and Cancer Foundation, Grove City College, Carnegie Institute of Technology, and Allegheny Cemetery.
Images courtesy of The Hunt Institute
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