Joseph Atchison was born on Christmas Day, 1914, in Barnum, West Virginia. One of three children, Mr. Atchison grew up in Elk Garden, West Virginia, where he attended a three-year high school. After completing his high school education at Kitzmiller, Maryland, he attended Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia, for one year to study a foreign language and physics. This prepared him for entrance into Louisiana State University, from which he graduated in 1938 with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. In 1940, he graduated from The Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, Wisconsin, with a master of science degree, followed in 1942 by a doctorate in pulp and paper technology.
Between 1942 and 1946, Dr. Atchison served in the United States Army, during which time he advanced from 1st. Lt. to Lt. Colonel. He returned to civilian life in 1946, and joined John Strange Paper Co. as technical director. He left that position in 1948 to work with the Marshall Plan as chief of the Pulp and Paper Branch. In 1952, he worked as mill manager and director of a bagasse pulping pilot plant for Portican Paper Products Company. Between 1953 and 1967, Dr. Atchison served as vice president and senior vice president in charge of the Pulp and Paper Project Division of Parsons and Whittemore, Inc. In 1967, he established Joseph E. Atchison Consultants, Inc. and Atchison Consultants, Inc. and is president and owner.
Dr. Atchison is an internationally-recognized and widely-published authority on the utilization of nonwood plant fibers for papermaking. He has provided the process design for many mills that use bagasse, straw, reeds, esparto grass, bamboo, and other nonwood fibers. He has also played a key role in the development and implementation of 40 mills in 25 countries, based on the utilization of such raw materials. An early proponent of recycling, he wrote a 400-page book on the subject. He also wrote a 600-page book on the potential use of kenaf as a raw material in papermaking. In addition, he has presented over 140 papers, many of which have been published worldwide in 50 technical magazines, Technical Association Proceedings, and United Nations publications and books.
His contributions have played a key role in the dramatic worldwide expansion of the non-wood pulping capacity for papermaking from 9.3 million tons in 1975 to more than 24 million tons in 1998. In the case of bagasse alone, his technical contributions have resulted in expanding the pulping capacity from fewer than 100,000 tons in 1950 to more than three million tons in 1998.
An active member of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), Dr. Atchison established the TAPPI nonwood plant fiber committee and served as chairman for the first eleven years. He was active on the by-product committee of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) for 50 years. He has also been a member of American Chemical Society; American Institute of Chemical Engineers; technical section of Canadian Pulp and Paper Association; Indian Pulp and Paper Technical Association; Technical Association of the Australian and New Zealand Pulp and Paper Industry; American-Arab Association for Commerce and Industry; New Uses Council; American Kenaf Society; and United Nations Association of the United States. He served on the Task Group of the President’s Commission on Increased Use of Agricultural Products and as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Pulp and Paper Committee of the International Materials Conference during the Korean War.
In 1974, Mr. Atchison was awarded the TAPPI Pulp Manufacture Division Award. He became a TAPPI Fellow in 1978 and was honored with the Leadership and Service Award of the Pulp and Manufacture Division in 1990. In 1996, he received the prestigious TAPPI Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award. Over the years, Mr. Atchison has been elected to Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest; American Men and Women of Science; Leaders in American Science; Distinguished Leaders in the Nation’s Capital; Who’s Who in the East; and Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry.
Dr. Atchison and his wife, Betty Jean, reside in Long Boat Key, Florida. In his free time he enjoys tennis, fitness exercise, dancing, traveling, and theater.