Corning Incorporated leaders today mourned the loss of Amory (Amo) Houghton Jr., 93, who died Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at his home in Corning, N.Y. Houghton served Corning as chairman and chief executive officer from 1964 until 1983, establishing the company on a course toward a high-technology future with the development of optical fiber. He then went on to serve nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The company, the community, and the country have lost a giant,” said Wendell P. Weeks, chairman, chief executive officer, and president, Corning Incorporated. “I can’t think of anyone who embodied leadership more than Amo. Although he officially retired as CEO the year I joined Corning, his influence was everywhere. He inspired me with his belief in the power of technology to improve lives, his relentless pursuit of excellence, and his commitment to serve others. He truly believed that what you did for people was the most important thing, and that has shaped Corning’s mission – not just to be an industry leader, but also to make a real difference in the world. I was fortunate to have him as one of my advisors and friends, and we are privileged to build on his foundation.”
Called “Amo” by all who knew him, Houghton led the company through landmark periods of innovation, growth, and prosperity and created a culture in which employees were united in a common cause, and their company, in turn, operated as an accountable member of its community.
Committed to research and development, Houghton helped facilitate many of Corning’s inventions such as CorningWare® and optical fiber. He also helped create the emissions-control business that launched the company’s Environmental Technologies segment.
Houghton, whose great-great grandfather founded what was to become Corning Incorporated in 1851, was born in Corning on Aug. 7, 1926.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1950 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1952. That same year, he joined what was then Corning Glass Works as a junior process engineer at the Fallbrook, New York, plant. In 1954, Houghton served as a sales engineer for the electrical products division, later being promoted to manager of Electrical Components.
Houghton was named a member of the company’s board of directors as well as vice president of Corning Glass Works in 1957, before being appointed president in 1961. Then in 1964, he was named chairman and chief executive officer of Corning Glass Works.
Among his numerous accomplishments, Amo led the recovery efforts after Hurricane Agnes flooded the Corning area in 1972, he initiated Corning’s first LPGA event in 1976, and he supported the expansion of the Corning Museum of Glass in 1980. As a member of Corning’s board of directors, Houghton helped established Corning Enterprises, an organization designed to drive economic development, strengthen human services, and improve local quality of life.
Houghton’s brother, Jamie Houghton, said, “Amo never wavered in his faith and commitment to the people in the company, to research, and to the communities where we operate. He insisted on always doing business the ‘Corning Way’ – which simply meant striving at all times to be the best at anything we undertook.
“But most importantly Amo has understood and believed in the elevation of the human spirit. He has understood and led us to understand that management means just that – constant contact with the people in the organization. He has understood the great powers of motivation that can be unleashed, if people are led well.”