John Strange was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, on September 17, 1911. He was educated in the public school system through the eighth grade, after which he enrolled in St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, for his high school education. In 1932, he graduated from Lawrence College, Appleton, Wisconsin, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree. During high school and college, he was an enthusiastic athlete and became a top-ranked varsity tennis player.
In 1932, Mr. Strange joined The Institute of Paper Chemistry. In his early years at the Institute, he served in leadership positions with two governmental agencies. During the National Recovery Administration, he served as secretary of the Central Grading Committee. During World War II, he served as chief of the War Products Development Section of the War Production Board. Mr. Strange was secretary, treasurer, and vice president of the Institute and became president in 1955.
Through a remarkable forty years of service at the Institute, Mr. Strange helped guide the educational and research contributions of the institution. As third president of The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Mr. Strange led the institution during a period of enormous change in the paper industry and higher education. He was instrumental in strengthening the Institute both academically and financially. He inspired others to take on the challenges of increasing the breadth and depth of the lnstitute’s research at a time of rapid and scientific technological change and increasing economic and social complexity. His annual presentations at the lnstitute’s Executive’s Conference, regarded as one of the industry’s most prestigious events, were eagerly awaited as learned dissertations on the role of education in addressing the industry’s scientific and technological needs, the economics of paper manufacturing, and emerging trends in industry-related research.
Through graduate education and innovative research, the Institute, under Mr. Strange’s leadership, helped set major directions for the paper industry, providing many of the resources the industry needed to address changing technologies and market forces. It was Mr. Strange and his colleagues who early on pushed for stream surveys and pollution analysis, anticipating the role environmental issues would play in the industry’s future.
Under his leadership, the Institute spearheaded technological developments in many areas, including chemical marking, coatings, and the strength of paperboard. Mr. Strange played a major role in drafting key industry guidelines. The Institute was a leader in expanding the use of nonfibrous additives to facilitate paper production. Nearly all of the original adaptive work on soybean protein was done by the Institute.
During his tenure, the Institute supplied many of the professional technical personnel who were critical to the research and development successes of the industry, as well as a high percentage of CEOs and higher management. The Institute itself, under his leadership, was responsible for groundbreaking advances in many sectors that contributed directly to the prosperity of the paper industry.
In addition to membership on various committees and groups in the pulp and paper industry, Mr. Strange was a member and secretary of the Sulfite Pulp Manufacturer’s Research League. He was also a long-time member of the Fourdrinier Kraft Board Institute, Inc., having joined when it was founded in 1944.
He has served as a director for Cutler-Hammer, lnc.; First National Bank of Appleton; Fox Valley Corporation; Outagamie Corporation; George Banta Company, Inc.; and the Green Bay Packers. He was director and president of The Green Bay & Mississippi Canal Company.
Mr. Strange’s public service activities included serving as a trustee for Lawrence University (for over 50 years) and Wayland Academy. He was a member and president of the Appleton School Board and participated in committees and served on boards of the YMCA; Boy Scouts of America; and Appleton Medical Center.
He received two honorary doctor of science degrees, one from Lawrence University and one from Ripon College. He was also awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Beloit College.
Mr. Strange died at home in Appleton, Wisconsin, on August 30, 1992. He and his wife, Mary, raised three children. She continues to reside in Appleton.