Edisons Later Years
In 1911, Edisons companies were re organized into Thomas A. Edison, Inc. As the organization became more diversified and structured, Edison became less involved in the day to day operations, although he still had some decision making authority. The goals of the organization became more to maintain market viability than to produce new inventions frequently.A fire broke out at the West Orange laboratory in 1914, destroying 13 buildings. Although the loss was great, Edison spearheaded the rebuilding of the lot.When Europe became involved in World War I, Edison advised preparedness, and felt that technology would be the future of war. He was named head of the Naval Consulting Board in 1915, an attempt by the government to bring science into its defense program. Although mainly an advisory board, it was instrumental in the formation of a laboratory for the Navy which opened in 1923, although several of Edisons suggestions on the matter were disregarded. During the war, Edison spent much of his time doing naval research, in particular working on submarine detection, but he felt that the navy was not receptive to many of his inventions and suggestions.
In the 1920s, Edisons health became worse, and he began to spend more time at home with his wife. His relationship with his children was distant, although Charles was president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc. While Edison continued to experiment at home, he could not perform some experiments that he wanted to at his West Orange laboratory because the board would not approve them. One project that held his fascination during this period was the search for an alternative to rubber.Henry Ford, an admirer and friend of Edisons, reconstructed Edisons invention factory as a museum at Greenfield Village, Michigan, which opened during the 50th anniversary of Edisons electric light in 1929. The main celebration for Lights Golden Jubilee, co hosted by Ford and General Electric, took place in Dearborn along with a huge celebratory dinner in Edisons honor attended by notables such as President Hoover, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., George Eastman, Marie Curie, and Orville Wright. Edisons health, however, had declined to the point that he could not stay for the entire ceremony.For his last two years, a series of ailments caused his health to decline even more until he lapsed into a coma on October 14, 1931. He died on October 18, 1931, at his estate, Glenmont, in West Orange, New Jersey.