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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

K.T. Keller

Kaufman Thuma Keller was appointed President of the Chrysler Corporation in 1935, having served as Vice President since 1926.

Keller entered the automotive industry in 1910 as an apprentice without any previous education in engineering or mechanics. He held various jobs including laborer, foreman, and master mechanic for several companies, including the Detroit Medal Products Company, General Motors Company, and the Buick Motor Company.

Walter Chrysler brought Keller to the Chrysler Corporation as vice president in 1926 to manage the Company’s rapidly expanding manufacturing operations. Keller’s intelligence, hard work, and mechanical skills enabled him to advance all the way to the top of Chrysler, where he guided the company through World War II.

Under Keller, Chrysler accepted several major wartime contracts from the United States government, including contracts to build tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and engines for airplanes. In 1943, the Company also accepted a top-secret contract to electroplate the miles of tubing required for the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, TN that was being constructed as part of the Manhattan Project.

Keller served as president of Chrysler until 1950, when he became chairman of the board, a position he held until his retirement in 1956.