Jack Taylor, the former World War II fighter pilot who founded Enterprise Holdings and helped build it into the world’s largest rental car company, died in his hometown of St. Louis on Saturday after a brief illness, the company said. He was 94.

Taylor, who as a Navy pilot flew planes off of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise and later named his company after the ship, founded his auto-leasing company in 1957 with seven cars out of the Cadillac dealership where he was a salesman. His business added shorter-term car rentals in 1962.

Taylor grew the company largely by focusing on off-airport, neighborhood locations instead of airport operations, where his company’s competitors generated much of their business.

Closely held Enterprise, which employs 91,000 people, acquired Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental in 2007 and generated $19.4 billion for its most recently completed fiscal year. The company accounts for about half of the U.S. car rental market, compared to about 24% for Hertz Global Holdings and about 20% for Avis Budget Group, according to trade publication Auto Rental News.

Taylor was succeeded as Enterprise’s CEO in 1991 by his son, Andrew Taylor, who is now executive chairman of the company. Jack Taylor’s granddaughter, Christine Taylor, is Enterprise’s chief operating officer.

The Taylor family has donated more than $1 billion to various causes, including Washington University, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“My father took a simple idea and created a great company,” said Andrew C. Taylor in a statement. “We will honor his memory every day as we live the values he instilled in our company — taking excellent care of our customers, encouraging and supporting each other and giving back to our communities.”


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