The man who turned pushing a lawnmower into a multimillion-dollar
riding mower empire has died.
Entrepreneur Cecil Elwood Pond, 87, developer of the modern riding
lawnmower and founder of Wheel Horse Products, died Dec. 30 in Palm
City, Fla., following a brief illness.
Born in South Bend to Elmer and Ann Marie Pond, Pond graduated from
the former Washington-Clay High School and served in the U.S. Army
during World War II.
Pond returned to South Bend after the war and married Betty Alber in June 1946.
The same year, Pond teamed with his father, who was building two-wheel
lawn tractors from angle irons and surplus motorcycle and automotive
parts out of his garage.
"He didn't like to mow the lawn," Cecil Pond's son, Gary Pond, of
South Bend, said of his father Thursday night. "He didn't like to push
the lawnmower, that's how it came about."
Pond crafted a business which helped shape the post-World War II
suburban American landscape and the growth of the consumer lawn and
garden equipment industry.
During the explosive growth of suburbs in the 1950s, Wheel Horse sales