Stay updated with the latest news at AMERICAN

Women’s History Month: Susan Young Eagan’s Life of Service

Mar 20 , 2024
Awards and Achievements, Community Involvement

She was described as someone who “sought no honor or place for herself,” yet her actions have benefited generations of people. As a young widow in 1924, she had the  power to claim a profitable pipe manufacturing company for herself and her children, but she chose a different path.

AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company celebrates 2024 Women’s History Month by remembering Susan Young Eagan. This year’s theme centers on women who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. What Susan Eagan did for AMERICAN was perhaps one of the most inclusive and self-less actions a person could take, and it solidified a dream she shared with her husband, John J. Eagan, AMERICAN’s founder. They envisioned a company run by the Golden Rule. The result has been generations of opportunity for people from diverse walks of life.

“Without the action taken by Susan Eagan, our company’s history would have taken a totally different turn.” – Julie Shedd, Senior Vice President in Charge of Human Resources

“Without the action taken by Susan Eagan, our company’s history would have taken a totally different turn,” says Senior Vice President in Charge of Human Resources Julie Shedd. “Each April, we have Eagan Day, honoring John Eagan, but you cannot honor Mr. Eagan without also honoring his wife Susan. Their stories are inseparable.”

Susan Baum Young was born in 1887 to Pennsylvania couple Eliza Caskey and Samuel Young, the latter a Presbyterian minister. The family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1890, where Susan was educated at Agnes Scott College.

The school had begun in 1889 as Decatur Female Seminary, a Christian school to train women leaders. Still making an impact today, in 2024, Agnes Scott is ranked first on a list of the nation’s most innovative liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings.

At the school, and at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Susan developed a heart for social service. She graduated from Agnes Scott in 1906 during the Progressive Era, a time of social, political and labor reform. She worked tirelessly in the ministries and missions of Central Presbyterian, often working alongside her future husband.

In 1905, John Eagan was among seven Atlanta-area businessmen to invest in the idea of Charlotte Blair to establish an iron pipe foundry in Birmingham, Alabama, to meet the water infrastructure needs of the nation’s growing population centers. Notably, Blair was an accomplished businesswoman in the iron foundry industry at a time when only approximately 19% of women worked outside the home. The initial investors incorporated AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company in Atlanta on October 9, 1905. John Eagan was named president.

Susan and John were married in 1919. Although the couple could have enjoyed a life of wealth and leisure, they chose instead to serve God by investing in the lives of others in Atlanta, Birmingham and beyond. They would have two children, William Russell in 1920 and Ann in 1921.

By the end of 1921, Mr. Eagan had become sole proprietor of the company by purchasing all the common stock from the other investors. He had a purpose and a plan for doing this and, as fate would have it, fulfillment of these would rest in Susan’s hands.

In 1922, with only Susan and his attorney knowing at the time, Mr. Eagan wrote the codicil to his will, stating his desire to place all the company stock in a trust for employees to ensure “service to the purchasing public and to labor on the basis of the Golden Rule.”

John Eagan died in March 1924 and his company shares were the major portion of his estate. Under the laws of Georgia, a man could not leave this much of his estate to anyone other than his family. Even though he had willed the company to its employees in a trust, Susan had the opportunity to keep all or part of the company shares. Instead, she went to court to secure the right to turn over ownership of AMERICAN to the employee trust.

In her 82 years of life, Susan’s devotion to serving others was manifested in many ways. She served on the National Council of Churches Executive Committee; was president of the Atlanta Young Women’s Christian Association; served on the World Service Committee of the National YWCA Board and the Salvation Army Advisory Board; and for 30 years was chair of Central Presbyterian’s Baby Clinic for mothers who couldn’t afford medical care, a project John Eagan had started. She also served on the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, an organization of ministers, educators and citizens organized to improve the situation of Blacks in the South.

Mrs. Eagan served on AMERICAN’s Board of Directors until her death in January 1970. She left an indelible mark on the company, and her unselfish action echoes through the AMERICAN family of companies to this day.

Today's Infrastructure Solutions in the U.S. and Around the Globe.

About Us
American Mark