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Harry C. Stonecipher (born May 16, 1936) is a former president and chief executive officer of American aerospace companies McDonnell Douglas and, later, The Boeing Company. Stonecipher orchestrated the merger between McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, and was widely credited with the seeming resurgence of Boeing after government procurement scandals. However, his tenure also included major decisions to change Boeing's design and sourcing process for the new 787 airliner. These decisions later proved to be organizationally and financially disastrous for the company. After a long and distinguished career, Stonecipher was forced to resign at Boeing following the disclosure of his longtime consensual affair with a fellow Boeing employee whom he later married.

Harry C. Stonecipher
President and Chief Executive Officer, McDonnell Douglas
In office
President and Chief Operating Officer, Boeing
In office
Vice Chairman, Boeing
In office
President and Chief Executive Officer, Boeing
In office
2003–2005 [1]
Personal details
Born (1936-05-16) May 16, 1936 (age 83)
Robbins, Tennessee, U.S.
Spouse(s)Joan Stonecipher (divorced)
EducationBachelor of Science in Physics, Tennessee Technological University


Early lifeEdit

Stonecipher was born in Robbins, Tennessee.[2]


In 1960, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics at the Tennessee Technological University. In May 2002, Stonecipher received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Science from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. [1]


Stonecipher began his career at General Motors' Allison Division, where he worked as a lab technician and was influenced by Jack Welch.[3]

He moved to General Electric's Large Engine Division in 1960, and began to move up the ranks. He became a vice president at GE in 1979, then a division head in 1984.

In 1987 he left for Sundstrand, where he became president and CEO in 1989.[2]

McDonnell DouglasEdit

In September 1994, Stonecipher was elected president and CEO of McDonnell Douglas, holding this post until its merger with Boeing in 1997. During this period he became much more of a public figure, and even began hosting the company's quarterly video report. He remained on the board following the successful completion of that transaction, serving as president and COO of the merged entity. In 2001, he was elected vice chairman and retired as president and COO the next year, while continuing to serve on the board as vice chairman.[2]


Stonecipher came out of retirement to lead Boeing, following the resignation of Chairman and CEO Phil Condit in December 2003 over several scandals. These scandals surrounded allegations of documents stolen from competitors and the hiring of a government procurement officer who at the time was involved in the United States Air Force's KC-767 contract. Stonecipher assumed the titles of president and CEO, which was not considered an interim appointment as there was no search initiated for a new chief executive, while Lewis Platt became non-executive chairman of the board.[4]

Under Stonecipher's tenure, the air force had lifted a 20-month suspension of Boeing's Launching Systems Group, which had been involved in one of the scandals, allowing them to bid on Pentagon contracts again.[5] He also oversaw the launch of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in order to challenge Airbus.[6] Although not fully evident at the time, the results of major changes to Boeing's airplane program design, sourcing and financing made during Stonecipher's and Condit's tenures would later prove disastrous. [7] Shares of the company traded as high as $58.74 in 2005, up 54 percent during his tenure.[8]

Stonecipher submitted his resignation upon request of the Boeing Board of Directors on March 6, 2005, after an internal investigation revealed a consensual relationship with Boeing executive Debra Peabody. The probe found that Boeing business operations were unaffected, that Peabody's career and compensation were not influenced, and that there was no improper use of company expenses or property. Nonetheless, the board of directors decided that there would be "zero tolerance on breaches of ethics".[9] His wife of 50 years, Joan Stonecipher, filed for divorce just days after news of his affair became public.[10] Stonecipher was succeeded as president and CEO on an interim basis by Chief Financial Officer James A. Bell, until James McNerney was hired on a full-time basis.[11]


In 1955, at age 18, Stonecipher married Joan in Rossville, Ga. Stonecipher and his wife have two children.[12][13]

In 1995, Stonecipher and his wife, Joan Stonecipher, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in Chicago with friends.[12]

In 2005, after the news brokeout regarding Stonecipher's affair with a Boeing employee, his wife, Joan Stonecipher, filed for divorce.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Executive Biography of Harry C. Stonecipher". Retrieved Jan 3, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Ex-Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher at a Glance". Los Angeles Times. 7 March 2005. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  3. ^ "Harry C. Stonecipher". Encyclopedia of Business. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
  4. ^ "Boeing: What Really Happened". Business Week. 2003-12-15. Retrieved 2009-06-30.[dead link]
  5. ^ Wayne, Leslie (9 February 2005). "Boeing Could Soon Settle Ethics Inquiries, Chief Says". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Landler, Mark (23 July 2004). "At Air Show, Echoes of Boeing's New Assertiveness in Duel With Airbus". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Denning, Steve (13 January 2013). "What Went Wrong At Boeing". Forbes.
  8. ^ Norris, Floyd (8 March 2005). "Boeing's Road to Redemption Paved With Affairs Great and Small". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Gates, Dominic (2005-03-08). "With Stonecipher ouster, Boeing faces CEO dilemma". Seattle Times, 8 March 2005.
  10. ^ "The Affair That Grounded Stonecipher". 8 March 2005. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  11. ^ Boeing (2005-06-30). "Boeing Board Elects W. James McNerney, Jr. Chairman, President and CEO". Boeing, 30 June 2005.
  12. ^ a b c Dougherty, Geoff. Mar 12, 2005. "Stonecipher's wife files to end 50-year marriage". Retrieved Jan 3, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Barancik, Scott. Mar 8, 2005. "Couple built life around career". Retrieved Jan 3, 2017.

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