Delta’s most faithful investor, Carl C. Nourse, who at one time was the company’s largest individual stockholder, died earlier this month. Mr. Nourse, of Worthington, Ohio, was 94.
Mr. Nourse was an ardent fan of Delta for more than six decades. He said Delta had been much more than a stock holding to him.
"It was almost a love affair," Mr. Nourse told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper in 2007. Early on, "the Delta people knew me, and I knew them. I felt like I owned the airline."
Mr. Nourse made his original investment in 1946, seeing the company through good times and bad.
The former Navy pilot invested $20,000 in Delta stock, then trading at $1.30 per share. He used the majority of the bonus he made for his service in the Navy Air Corps for the investment after being impressed by a chance meeting with Delta founder C. E. Woolman at the airport in Cincinnati, where Nourse was living. The two hit it off, and Nourse became an admirer of Woolman's employee-focused management style.
At one time Mr. Nourse owned more than 1 million Delta shares.
After Delta emerged from bankruptcy, Mr. Nourse and his wife Mary were invited to the New York Stock Exchange to attend the bell ringing ceremony and relisting of the company. Mr. Nourse was the second individual to purchase shares issued by Delta, following only then-CEO Gerald Grinstein.
“There really is no bigger fan of this company than Mr. Nourse, and his loyalty has been astounding," Neil Russell, then-Delta’s Director of Investor Relations, said at the time. "I haven't heard a similar story in my experience with Wall Street."
Mr. Nourse was a member of “million-mile club” and was given the opportunity to fly 20 family members and friends out of Columbus on a historic DC-3 airplane owned by Delta.
Over the past 50 years, Mr. Nourse worked in the automotive industry, owning dealerships throughout Ohio. Mr. Nourse will be remembered not only for his business success but for his philanthropic efforts and his love of family.
Delta will honor Mr. Nourse’s legacy with a tribute brick to be displayed at the Delta Heritage Museum.
See: Carl Nourse obituary