Oral history interviews with John J. Raskob family2004-2005
Raskob was born in Lockport, New York, on March 19, 1879 to Anna Frances (Moran) Raskob (1851-1926) and John Raskob (1850-1898). He was educated in the area's public schools. He was the oldest of four children. He had a brother and two sisters: Gertrude A. Raskob Hull (1881-1968); William F. Raskob (1883-1973), and Edith Raskob Kaiser (circa 1888-1967).
In 1900, Raskob was working for the Johnson Company of Lorain, Ohio when he met Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954). Pierre S. du Pont had recently purchased the Johnson Company. By 1902, Raskob became Pierre du Pont’s private secretary and would later serve as an executive for the DuPont Company and General Motors. Raskob and du Pont worked together on projects such as the DuPont Highway in Delaware. The two maintained a close professional and personal relationship throughout their lives.
In 1904, Raskob met Helena Springer Green (1884-1963). She was a devout Catholic, well-educated, and an accomplished musician. Raskob met her while she was playing an organ at St. Mary’s Church in Wilmington, Delaware. John and Helena Raskob married in 1906. The couple had thirteen children:
John “Jake” Jacob Raskob Jr. (1907-1981)
William “Bill” Frederick Raskob II (1908-1928)
Helena “Sis” Mary Raskob Geuting (1909-1997)
Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Raskob Parkman (1910-2009)
Robert “Bob” Pierre Raskob (1911-1974)
Inez “Yvonne” Yvonne Raskob (1912-1935)
Margaret “Marcy” Lucy Raskob Harmon (1914-1998)
Josephine “Jo” Juniata Raskob Robinson (1915-1998)
Nina Barbara Raskob Lyon (1916-2007)
Catherine Lorena Raskob (1918-1918)
Patricia “Patsy” Virginia Raskob Bremer (1919-2013)
Mary “Boo” Louis Raskob Duffy (1921-2017)
Benjamin “Ben” Green Raskob (1922-2009)
The family first resided in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1910, the Raskobs purchased property in Claymont, Delaware. The estate had two houses: “Archmere” and “Woodsedge”. In 1915, the Raskobs began to construct a new home at the site of Archmere. During construction they resided at Woodsedge. Construction of Archmere was completed in 1919. The family lived in the house until 1930. Helena Springer Raskob was known for keeping a well-maintained household, because of this, the entire family called her “Skipper”.
All the Raskob children attended boarding school. Most seemed to have been able to travel home on the weekends and all lived at home during the summer. John J. Raskob traveled frequently for work, and lived in an apartment in New York City during the work week. He traveled home on most weekends.
Many of the Raskob children went on to obtain advanced degrees. As the children married, they made homes of their own in various locations throughout the United States.
Three of the siblings died in their youth. In 1918, Catherine Raskob died of the Spanish flu, she was six months old. In 1928, Bill Raskob was killed in an automobile accident. In 1935, Yvonne Raskob, who had been sickly her entire life, died of pneumonia.
In 1923, John "Jack" Phillip Corcoran (1900-1991) started working as a swim instructor for the Raskob children and would go on to become a close confidante of the family. He later served as the family’s estate manager.
In 1930 the Raskob family moved to a property called Pioneer Point in Centerville, Maryland. The estate also had two houses: Mostley Hall and Hartefeld. The family lived at Pioneer Point until 1938. Throughout the 1930s, the family also made regular visits to Corcoran's hunting lodge, Camp Melody Pine, in Catharage, North Carolina.
Between 1938 and 1942, Helena Springer Raskob lived in various places in the western U.S. due to her asthma. In 1942, she moved to Tucson, Arizona with Nina Raskob.
In 1945, John and Helena Raskob founded the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, a philanthropic organization which provides grants to Catholic organizations and programs around the world. Many of their children became actively involved in the foundation, with a few holding leadership positions.
In March 1950, John J. Raskob took a European cruise aboard the SS America with daughters: Helena Geuting, Jo Robinson, Patsy Bremer, Boo Duffy and their respective families. The family states that he did not seem at all unwell. However, on October 15, 1950 John J. Raskob died at his Pioneer Point home.
Scope and Content
Raskob children interviewed include: Betty Parkman, Nina Raskob Lyon, and Patsy Bremer, Boo Duffy, and Ben Raskob. Grandchildren interviewed were: Rosalie "Roz" Parkman (1937-) and John Jakob Raskob III (1932-2008); Lorena “Lori” D. Sala (1952-), and Sister Patricia Geuting (1934-). John J. Raskob’s nephew, John Raymond "Rex" Kaiser (1927-2016) was also interviewed.
The interviews were conducted by Richard James and David Farber.
Richard James was the project archivist for the John J. Raskob papers (Accession 0473) in the Manuscripts and Archives Department at Hagley Museum and Library.
David Farber was a history professor at Temple University at the time of the interviews. He is the author of Everybody Ought To Be Rich: The Life and Times of John J. Raskob, Capitalist, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
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- Oral history interviews with John J. Raskob family
- Laurie Sather
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- This oral history project was funded by The Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities.