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Wendell Sammet – A Life Dedicated to the Poodle

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100 – October, 2020

By Amy Fernandez

A decade into his serendipitous career, Wendell was handling for Hollycourt, regularly picking up new clients, and obviously doing something right. He hadn’t followed a traditional roadmap, but he knew he was on the right track. As Seneca noted a few thousand years earlier, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. And he was in for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Henry Kaiser, generally described by the all encompassing title of industrialist, definitely had a flair for innovative business models beginning with Kaiser Shipyards in World War II. After the war, Kaiser Defense plants were seamlessly revamped to meet the massive demand for domestic products. Over the next two decades his steadily expanding empire incorporated health care, auto and aircraft design, construction, real estate, and mass media. He owned 29 companies and those Kaiser revenue streams were flowing to the tune of $775 million annually when he decided that Florida didn’t own the luxury resort business. According to Kaiser’s 1991 biography, he had big plans for Hawaii saying, “These islands are going to become the vacation paradise of the world.” But even the business savvy Kaiser didn’t foresee that the future 50th state was also destined to become the global epicenter of Standard Poodle development.

By 1951 the world was accustomed to big shocks from Henry Kaiser, but his April 6 announcement topped everything. When his executive staff assembled for an impromptu meeting, he dropped the bombshell of his engagement to Alyce Chester, a mere 23 days after the death of his first wife, Bess. Alyce entered the picture two years earlier as Bess’s private nurse as her chronic health issues worsened. The open communication which defined their 44-year marriage culminated in her recommendation for his remarriage after her death. The press, of course, had a field day.

They couldn’t decide what aspect of the story was more sensational, the three week jump into remarriage, Alyce’s age, her supermodel looks, or the fact that she’d been his wife’s nurse. The whole thing seemed like a bad romance novel. Kaiser was not only insanely wealthy; he was famed for his conservative family values, and totally looked the part at 250 pounds and 69 years of age. Salacious speculation about her sugar daddy intentions dovetailed with dire warnings about the end of Kaiser Industries.

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100 – October, 2020

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=191247

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