Chloe D. Milton, 'tire sculptress'

April 09, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Chloe DeLong Milton, an artist who was known during World War II as "the world's only tire sculptress," died Monday of pneumonia at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Ten Hills resident was 79.

From 1940 to 1946, she was an industrial designer for Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, where she received national acclaim for her unique contribution to the war effort.

Working from engineers' drawings to one-thirty-second of an inch of specifications, the proposed tire treads and sidewall models she created for cars, trucks, bombers and tanks were modeled in plasteline, then shown to company executives for approval before being ordered into production.

She was the only woman in the world engaged in this work, which was credited with saving thousands of dollars and proved to be an improvement over former design methods.

Her efforts captured national press attention, including articles in the New York Times, Esquire and Popular Mechanics.

"When the public acclaims a tire that I've sculptured, and I see it on cars everywhere, I get just as big a thrill as any sculptor could," Mrs. Milton said in a 1943 interview.

She began carving detailed subjects in cakes of soap when she was 10 and, after earning her bachelor's degree from the University of Akron in 1937, went to New York and continued studying with the Clay Club in Greenwich Village.

She also studied at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington and returned to Akron where she briefly taught school before going to work for the tire manufacturer.

A member of the American Designers' Institute, her portrait busts, which have been exhibited at the Corcoran, also are held in the collection of the Firestone Library and in private collections.

Born in Inez, Ky., she moved to Akron as a child. In 1945, she married Clare L. Milton, a vice president and technical director of ZTC Slack Associates. In the late 1940s, they moved to Washington, where she modeled relief maps for the Army, and in 1951, they moved to Baltimore.

Mrs. Milton was a pianist and participated in civic affairs. She was president of the Baltimore League of Women Voters from 1968 to 1969 and in 1970 and 1971.

She was a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church. She also was a member of the Women's Art League, the Altrusa and Tuesday Musical clubs, and the Sigma Pi Upsilon, Kappa Delta Pi, and Mu Phi Omega honorary societies.

A memorial service was to be held at 4:30 p.m. today at First Unitarian Universalist Church, Franklin and Charles streets, Baltimore.

In addition to her husband, survivors include a son, Donald Milton of Lexington, Mass.; two daughters, Linda Corcoran of Catonsville and Marilyn Milton of Woodlawn; a sister, Evelyn DeLong of Rockville; and six grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Sadie Crockin Fund of the League of Women Voters, 7800 York Road, Towson 21204.

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