About John H. Ware Jr.
John H. Ware, Jr.
John H. Ware, Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1888. His entrepreneurial streak was apparent at an early age as the young Ware performed repairs around his neighborhood in exchange for pocket money. His success at tinkering and the needs of his family led him to leave school at the age of 14 and become an electrician.
By age 16, Ware was running the J. Elliott Shaw Electric Company in Philadelphia, and just two years later, he won a contract to wire a power station for the Pennsylvania Railroad. At 19, he married Clara Edwards, the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, daughter of a contractor, and the couple went on to have two sons, John H. Ware 3rd and Willard M. Ware. The family eventually resided in Oxford, Pennsylvania, and maintained a second home in Florida.
The panic of 1907 in the U.S. caused a downturn in his electrical business, and, to make ends meet, Ware turned to sales, proving talented enough to manage the local sales office of Collier's Magazine. Upon returning to his original trade, Ware opened an electrical shop and concentrated his efforts on bringing electricity to rural communities. He sold his services farm by farm, capitalizing on his newfound sales skills and established what may well have been the first rural electrification program in the U.S.
Ware became a millionaire at the age of 36. The young entrepreneur had developed his holdings in the electrical business over the years and, in 1924, he sold them to a syndicate of investors for a profit of $1 million.
Another milestone occurred in 1933, when Ware took over the management of the faltering National Water Works Company, putting him in the water business for the first time. He succeeded in turning around the Philadelphia-based company and, over time, gained control over several other water interests in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These were followed by the purchase of Northeastern Water & Electric Company in 1942, his largest acquisition to date. One year later, Ware consolidated his holdings, selling off the electric properties to create the Northeastern Water Company.
During World War II, while continuing to manage his growing water enterprise, Ware contributed to the war effort by establishing the Delaware Optical Company, which filled a critical shortage by producing high-precision optical lenses for military use. He then liquidated the plant at the war's end.
On September 25, 1947, Ware was the sole bidder for the water property for the American Water Works & Electric Company. In a financial coup, he purchased the New York-based company for just $8 per share.
Ware served as Chairman of the Board and President of the resulting American Water Works for the next six years. In 1953 he relinquished the role of President and in 1960, he retired.
In 1957, Ware received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, presented to Americans who have overcome significant personal obstacles to distinguish themselves in their careers. The honor put the self-made businessman in the company of several former U.S. Presidents.
Ware divided his final years between his Pennsylvania and Florida homes. He died at the age of 75 on March 10, 1963.