William C. Lichtenfels, 85, who retired in 1988 as president of the former machinery and industrial products company Emhart Corp., died Jan. 10 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington.

He had complications from pulmonary fibrosis, said his son Steven Lichtenfels.

In 1951, Mr. Lichtenfels started his career at American Hardware Corp., an Emhart predecessor, as a salesman in Connecticut. He moved to Bethesda in 1957 to work as a company representative in the Mid-Atlantic. Over the years, working from the Washington area and from Connecticut, he served as the company’s vice president, president and chief operating officer.

A year after Mr. Lichtenfels’s retirement, the company was acquired by the hardware corporation Black & Decker.

William Charles Lichtenfels was a native of Plainville, Conn. He served in the Navy in the Atlantic during World War II and graduated from Harvard Business School’s advanced management program.

A former resident of Bethesda and West Hartford, Conn., he moved to Potomac in 2010.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Eileen McGarry Lichtenfels of Potomac; four children, Beth Veihmeyer and Tara Gans, both of Potomac, Steven Lichtenfels of McLean and Andrew Lichtenfels of Guilford, Conn.; a sister; and 10 grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough