Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 3, Page 2
Spring 1992
Inspired by President Taft, Chaplin Tyler sets wonderful example

     Chaplin Tyler of Hockessin, 94, who recently donated $2 million
to the University's College of Business and Economics, has lots of
energy and the mental acuity of someone half his age. He chooses to
conduct a two-hour interview standing up.
     "Would you like to sit down, Mr.Tyler?" a reporter keeps asking.
     "Oh here, let me tell you about this," he responds, darting
across the room to point out another interesting memento of his full
     Hanging on the walls of his cottage at Cokesbury Village, which
he shares with his second wife, Elizabeth, are several of his
     "A relative taught me to sketch and you know that's much better
than paying someone to teach you. If you hire a professional, they'll
keep flattering you to get your business. My brother-in-law would come
right out at times and tell me, 'That stinks.' Now, that's the way to
     Another hobby is woodworking, and there are generous mahogany
shelves that Tyler built in their foyer.
     Among the projects he has completed since moving to the cottage
12 years ago are enclosing the kitchen, building a weather enclosure
off the outside entranceway to keep snow from the front door and
putting an addition on the back of the house to hold his gardening
     His gardening is done at the side and back of the house where he
has planted apple, peach and pear trees, grape vines and raspberries.
     Tyler has lived continuously in Wilmington since 1927, working
for the Du Pont Co. except during the war years when he was
transferred to Remington Arms in Connecticut.
     "I organized the public relations and it was a big job. Before
the war, the plant employed 4,000 people. During the war it expanded
to 88,000. We knew by the kind of orders we'd get (from the
government) what was going to happen in the war."
     Tyler and his late wife Harriet lived most of their lives in
Westmoreland, south of the Greenhill Golf Course. They retired to the
Devon Apartments, but when the apartments went condo, the couple moved
to Cokesbury, which at that time was 2 years old. Harriet, his wife of
63 years, died at Cokesbury, and Tyler married his second wife,
Elizabeth, two years ago.
     Tyler was born in Washington, D.C., and went to schools there.
His parents were separated, and his mother supported the family
working as a librarian at the Library of Congress.
     As a boy he sang in the choir at Saint John's on Lafayette
Square, which he said was "attended by very prominent politicians.
     "From our perch in the choir loft, we were very
observant-especially when they passed the collection plate. Whenever
we heard a tinkle, we knew someone had put in a coin and that was the
sign of a real cheapskate.
     "One Sunday, President Taft was at the service. Money back then
was a huge piece of paper, not the size it is today, and it was the
custom for people to fold it very small to put it in the collection
plate so no one could see the denomination. People then were very
     "Well, did our eyes get big when we saw the President pull out a
$5 bill, which would be about $150 today, and spread it over the top
of the collection plate like the cover over a dish of food.
     "I thought he was showing off, but my choir mate said, no, he was
shaming all the other people who were folding up smaller bills. By
giving that much, he was really setting a wonderful example."
     Chap and Elizabeth Tyler each have eight grandsons. Some of her
family lives in Australia, and she visits as often as as she can. At
home, they walk together and he enjoys listening to her play the
     For the past l0 years, he also has been working on a book dealing
with "the middle career of young people who go into business."
     "It's a success book, but it's not inspirational. The whole idea
is to inform young people from, say, the age of 22, until they are
about to make it big, at about age 45. The information is presented in
such a way as to assist them in their careers."
     In the book, Tyler advances the theory that, because senior
managerial positions in business are limited in number, there should
be a system of promotion and rewards for "people who are creative,
people who create ideas and concepts. After all, if it weren't for the
creative people, there wouldn't be anything to manage."
     In the future,Tyler is looking forward to teaching a few classes
in the College of Business and Economics as a guest lecturer.
     "I think I could answer questions about almost anything. After
all, I was on the payroll for 60 years. If I didn't learn enough to
answer questions in that amount of time I'd be in bad shape!
     "I told them I don't hear very well, but they told me it's the
students who would have to hear me. I think that would be alright."
                                        -Beth Thomas