While William Davidson may have been the last of the four founders of Harley-Davidson to join the initial venture, he brought to the little company a wealth of experience and judgment that went far to assure its future success. As a skilled mechanic, he had been the tool room foreman at the Milwaukee shops of what later became the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. The automotive industry provided an uncertain future in those days but the concept of building a newer form of gasoline propelled transportation intrigued him and he joined his brothers and William Harley with a dedication for the project that would become the joy and commitment of his life's work. As works manager his desk was always piled high with parts from various stages of the manufacturing process; a semi-finished hub, bearing, shaft or rod. He knew the steel from which it was made, the processes it had undergone and those that were necessary for completion. His was the responsibility of purchasing presses and the other equipment needed to continually improve the manufacturing process, as well as meeting the rapidly growing demand for production of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Yet, he did not allow his fascination with the technical processes of manufacturing to isolate him. William Davidson was known for his compassion for others, particularly employees who needed advice or a helping hand from time to time. From machinist to dealer, bankers to politicians, he was willing to share his time. And while many people say their door is always open, William A. Davidson not only said it but lived by that credo. Well respected throughout the community, he passed away April 21, 1937, at the age of 66.
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Sturgis Museum and Hall of Fame - Sturgis, South Dakota