The Walter G. Kolb Story

Walter George Kolb Sr., Donna Kolb Boesl’s grandfather, was born September 29th, 1902. He was the son of George Henry F. Kolb, and Thirza K. Kolb.

The Walter G. Kolb Story
Walter G. Kolb

Walter Kolb enjoyed his early days as a child growing up in Georgetown, Washington DC, prior to current modes of transportation or electricity. Horse drawn carriages were being phased out, and now trolley cars were the way to get around town. Electricity in homes was not yet commonplace, used mostly only in the White House, in other Government Buildings, and the elite. Generally homes were still lit by gas light.

But change was underway, and Walter wanted to be a part of one of the biggest conveniences of his time. Always exhibiting an outgoing personality and a curious mind, Walter started working at an early age. With only an 8th grade education, and an entrepreneurial spirit, Walter started his career installing fuse boxes into homes in the Georgetown area. Many of these homes were receiving electricity for the very first time. He performed his service calls by trolley car.

In 1925, at the age of 23, Walter founded his own electrical company, Kolb Electric. He started as a one man operation, installing electricity into many homes in the Washington DC area. It was during this time in which more and more products were being produced and used requiring electricity. Some of these include:

  • 1921 – refrigerator
  • 1924 – blender
  • 1925 – electric mixer
  • 1927 – coffee percolator
  • 1927 – electric saw
  • 1930 – heat lamp
  • 1935 – electric fan
  • 1937 – washing machine
  • 1938 – garbage disposer
  • 1939 – television set
  • 1947 – room air conditioner
  • 1951 – hand-held hair dryer
  • 1956 – electric can opener
  • 1959 – lighted telephone

As homeowners’ uses for these convenient appliances grew, there was a need for more access and outlets for electricity than what was originally planned within the home. Walter, who had been installing electrical products for years by this time, was not happy with the current outlet available for home installation, and decided to create a better one.

He developed his own outlet, the Convenience Outlet, and applied for the patent July 23, 1945. This outlet was created differently than those prior, as the time to install his Convenience Outlet into homes was cut in half. The outlet bore resemblance to the modern day outlet, with two receptacles able to plug in at once. His Convenience Outlet was an improvement as the cover plate mounted flush with the wall creating a better appearance, and needing a smaller area to install into walls or baseboards than prior outlets.

His Patent for his Convenience Outlet was approved and granted January 18th, 1949.

During Walter’s successful professional career he maintained a strong and active presence within the community.

He was an active member of the Rotary Club in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, where he presided over many events generating thousands of dollars selling war bonds during the WWII era. As a master of ceremonies for these events, he toured army camp hospitals and USO clubs, entertaining attendees with his talent and wit.

Walter was also a member and involved with the Washington Executives Association, a 32nd Degree Mason, a member of the Almas Temple, and a director of the Chevy Chase Building and Loan and Perpetual Building Association.

Walter was married to Gladys May Kolb, and had three children, Walter, Kenneth and Richard. He died March 19th, 1983 at the age of 80.

Walter’s legacy is his dedication to his customers, offering the best in electrical product and services. He was a leader in his industry, and within the community.

At Walter Electric we are proud of our name and our heritage. Our goal is to live to the standards created by Walter, and provide unequaled service to our community. From our roots we are wired to work. We are wired to work hard, to make sure your electricity works safely and properly for you, in all applications you require. We’ve been wired that way from the early Walter days to the current Walter Electric era.

Walter Electric. Wired to Work.