Yale University, 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Woodlawn Cemetery Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Irving Sands Olds (January 22, 1887 – March 4, 1963) was an American lawyer and philanthropist. He served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of U.S. Steel, and was partner at White & Case. He was a member of the Horace Walpole Society, elected in 1952.
Irving Sands Olds was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the only child of Clark and Livia Elizabeth Olds. Clark was an attorney, and Irving grew up in a wealthy household. Irving attended Yale University for his undergraduate degree, and graduated with a B.A. in 1907. He then continued on to receive a law degree from Harvard in 1910. Upon his graduation, Olds took a position as a law clerk for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. In 1911, he joined the law firm White & Case.
Enlisted, February 2, 1912, in Troop L, 1st Cavalry ( Squadron A ), NYNG, in New York City. Troop L reorganized into Troop C , under the command of Captain Merritt H. Smith. Then on November 15, 1913 reorganized into Machine Gun Troop, NYNG. March 1-4, 1913 he was escort to the Governor of New York at the inaugural ceremonies of President W. Wilson, Washington, DC. April 20, 1914 a review at the armory by Major General Charles F Roe and the veterans of Troop A, NY Volunteer Cavalry, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of their mustering in for the Spanish American War. He was discharged from Machine Gun Troop, in 1916. After a stint in France after the First World War opening White & Case's Paris office, Olds returned to the United States and became involved in the relationship between his firm and the United States Steel Corporation.
Mrs. Irving Sands Olds (1889-1957), by Jere R. Wickwire, 1931. inscribed, signed and dated: lower center: "To my Friend Irving S. Olds / 1931 Jere R. Wickwire". Evelyn Foster was born in New York, the daughter of Pell W. Foster, an engineer and manufacturer. She married Irving S. Olds on October 13, 1917. This is the second portrait Wickwire painted of her in 1931.
In 1917, Olds became a partner of the law firm White & Case, and remained as such until his death. That same year, he married Evelyn Foster daughter of Pell William Foster (1862 – 1947) founder of Foster Wheeler Corporation and Anne Williams; and, granddaughter of William Foster Jr., president of the first elevated railroad company in New York. The two did not have children.
In 1936, Olds was elected to the corporation’s Board of Directors of the United States Steel Corporation, and in 1940, upon the departure of Edward Stettinius, he was made chairman and chief executive officer. He ran U.S. Steel for twelve years, through the rest of the Second World War, and into the Atomic Age.
Olds led the Council for Financial Aid to Education, an organization which directed corporation donations to universities. He spent two years as the President of the New-York Historical Society, and was a benefactor and board member of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He studied naval history and had published two works, about the topic, “U.S. Naval History, 1776-1815” and “Bits and Pieces of American History”. He collected Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Naval Prints, and had a collection of over 1,000 items, many of which were donated upon his death to White & Case and the New-York Historical Society.
Olds died in March 1963, and was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, in The Bronx.
In 1942, the American Ship Building Company constructed the SS Irving Olds, named in honor of Olds, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. The ship was sold to U.S. Steel in 1952, and was eventually scrapped in 1988.
His art collection and personal papers are housed at the New York Historical Society.
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