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F. J. Lapointe, Broach Firm Founder, Dies

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F. J. Lapointe, Broach Firm Founder, Dies

Noted Industrialist And Inventor Passes After Long Illness

Francis J. Lapointe, 68, founder of the American Broach and Machine Co. here and the Acme Broach Corp of Milan, died early Sunday morning in St. Joseph's Mercy Hospital after a long illness.

Mr. Lapointe, who lived at 2115 Vinewood Blvd., suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in August and had been hospitalized since.

He gained a reputation as an engineering genius, patenting about 70 inventions, mostly for new and improved types of broaching machines and tools. 

He had been in the broaching machine business since the turn of the century and in Michigan since 1916, when he started the American Broach and Machine Co. in Detroit.

Built Huron St. Plant

About a year later he moved it to Ann Arbor, using rented space in what is now the University Press on Maynard St. In 1918 he built the original plant at 415 W. Huron St., present site of the enlarged plant.

In 1936 the firm was merged with the Sundstrand Machine Tool Corp. of Rockford, Ill. Mr. Lapointe continued in the merged company as vice-president and general manager of the local unit.

The plant grew to be among the city's five largest. Personnel rose from 21 when it first started to a high of 450 during World War II, before Mr. Lapointe’s resignation in 1946.

Moved To Kentucky

After his resignation, he moved to Lexington, Ky., where he formed the Acme Broach Corp. In 1948, the Kentucky operations were moved to Milan where they are now located. Mr. Lapointe had been active on the firm as chairman of the board of directors and executive vice-president until his illness.

Born in Thomaston, Conn., on Aug. 15, 1885, he was a son of Joseph N. and Melvina Chichioin Lapointe. He attended school in Thomaston and Hartford, Conn.

In the early 1900’s his father introduced a broaching machine that represented an entirely new concept in metal-cutting operations. (A broach is a cutting tool with a series of graduated teeth that, when pulled or pushed over a surface or through a hole, finishes the hole or surface to accurate dimensions and to any size or contour desired.

When Mr. Lapointe joined his father in helping produce the early machines, all were operated by means of a belt-driven pulley and screw.

Improved Operation

Mr. Lapointe devised ways of speeding and improving operations, and a good share of his inventions are now standard. As an example, during World War II, he devised ways to bore rifle and cannon barrels in hours—an unheard of production rate.

In 1905 Mr. Lapointe was married to Ada Blaine Cox of Johnson City, Tenn. She survives.

Surviving also are two daughters, Mrs. J. M. Bridges of Tucson, Ariz., and Mrs. W. L. Wenger of Ann Arbor; a son, Elmer J. Lapointe of Ann Arbor, president of the Milan firm; and six grandchildren.

Also surviving are two brothers, Ralph Lapointe of Hudson, Mass., and Dr. L. L. Lapointe of New York City; and a sister, Mrs. Beach Carpenter, also of New York City. 

Mr. Lapointe was a member of the First Methodist Church and the Ann Arbor Club. He was a former member of the Ann Arbor and Milan Rotary Clubs and had been active in the Masonic Lodge.

Private funeral services for the family and close friends will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Staffan-Hildinger Funeral Home with the Rev. Erland J. Wangdahl officiating. Burial will be in Bethlehem Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home.

DIES AT 68; The founder of American Broach and Machine Co. here, Francis J. Lapointe, 68, died yesterday In St. .Joseph’s Mercy Hospital He was chairman of the board of directors and executive vice-president of Acme Broach Corp. of Milan at the time of his death.