George Alexander Spater (May 3, 1909 – June 14, 1984) was chairman of American Airlines from 1968 to 1973.

Early life[edit | edit source]

He was born in Detroit, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1930 with an A.B. degree magna cum laude. He was associated with the Michigan Daily there. He earned a law degree from University of Michigan Law School in 1933.[1]

In 1935 he was admitted to the bar. He spent most of his law career working in aviation advising in particular Eastern Airlines and Transcontinental Air Transport (forerunner of TWA). He worked at Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside and Wolff in New York and was a partner there in 1942–1958.[1]

American Airlines[edit | edit source]

He left Chadbourne in 1959 to join American Airlines as Executive Vice President and General Counsel. He was elected Vice Chairman in 1967 and President and Chief Executive in 1968 succeeding company founder C.R. Smith.

Spater got caught in the investigations into the Watergate scandal and had to resign from American and was disbarred over illegal $55,000 contribution to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President -- although Spater was never charged or prosecuted. Spater's problems were traced to a meeting with Herbert Kalmbach at the 21 Club in which he was told that anybody contributing $100,000 to CREP would be treated as a "special class." While deciding what to do Spater subsequently said that Smith sent him four checks for $5,000 made out to "cash" with a note saying he might need the extra cash. He then gave the $20,000 to CREP in $100 bills (which was legal since it involved personal accounts). Still short of the $100,000 quota, he then authorized a $55,000 off the books transaction involving a safe at American Airlines headquarters in New York. When a lawsuit by Common Cause revealed the contribution, he was sacked by the American board and Smith returned as interim CEO.[2][3]

Author[edit | edit source]

After being sacked and disbarred he moved to England where he wrote biographies about William Cobbett and Virginia Woolf. He died in White River Junction, Vermont.

  • A marriage of true minds : an intimate portrait of Leonard and Virginia Woolf
  • William Cobbett: Poor Man's Friend

References[edit | edit source]

Business positions
Preceded by
C.R. Smith
American Airlines CEO
Succeeded by
C.R. Smith
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