H. R. Fitzgerald served as president of thefrom 1918 until his death in 1931. Born in Danville the son of , one of the company’s founders, Fitzgerald was deaf for most of his adult life. By 1908 he had become secretary-treasurer of Dan River Mills; a decade later he was president of one of the largest cotton mills in the United States. Taking over at a time when the company’s profits were in decline, Fitzgerald instituted scientific management in sales, helped to found a trade association, the Cotton-Textile Institute, and introduced Industrial Democracy, a representative system for airing and giving them a limited voice in mill operations. In 1930, Industrial Democracy ceased and about 4,000 mill workers went on strike. Fitzgerald refused offers of mediation from the state and federal governments, and after four months the strikers gave up. Just three and a half weeks later, however, in February 1931, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack, perhaps from the stress of the strike.