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1954 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Joseph Sunnen*

Founder
Sunnen Foundation

"Every man and corporation owes a portion of time and income to the general welfare."

Born in Thayer, Illinois, Joseph Sunnen was the son of a coal miner. In the seventh grade, he quit school to help on the family farm. Later, he moved to Missouri to work in his brother's auto garage. At 21, he invented a valve lifter tool that he wanted to market; however, an explosion nearly claimed his life. Severely burned over most of his body, Sunnen made a commitment that if he lived he would devote himself to mankind. A year later, a malfunctioning machine cut off the ends of three of Sunnen's fingers, but he didn't let that stop him from developing his Sunnen Products Company. Sunnen also invented a cylinder honing machine and other repair tools. Today, Sunnen is a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of bore sizing and finishing equipment. True to his word, from the time of his recovery Sunnen gave 50 percent of his annual company income to charity.

* Deceased