Philip Nethercut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 3, 1921. In 1942, he earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, where he was valedictorian of his class. This was followed by a master of science degree from The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1944. After receiving his master’s degree, Dr. Nethercut joined the U.S. Navy, where he served on combat duty in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he returned to the Institute, where he earned his doctorate.
Before joining the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) in 1957, Dr. Nethercut worked as a research chemist for Watervliet Paper Company and as a research manager for Scott Paper Company.
During his tenure as TAPPI’s executive director, Dr. Nethercut played a key role in helping volunteer leaders formulate and implement TAPPI policies. His contributions were especially significant in programs aimed at the professional development of individual members and young people early in their careers.
With his guidance, TAPPI grew in stature and importance as a major educational force in the pulp, paper, packaging, converting, and allied industries. The association continued to attract an increasing number of volunteer services of the world’s foremost engineers, scientists, and managers of these industries.
During his career with TAPPI, the association membership grew from 7,000 to 25,000. Under his leadership, the headquarter’s staff also grew to meet the greatly expanded needs of the membership. He recruited staff members with specialized skills in association operations so that volunteer leaders could concentrate on the interchange of technology rather than the mechanics of meetings or publication operations.
Dr. Nethercut was particularly active in coordinating TAPPI’s programs with those of other organizations with like interests in the United States and throughout the world. He served as a director or trustee of several pulp and paper college boards and foundations, participated in government advisory committees involved in forest product research and paper preservation, and represented TAPPI at meetings of many overseas associations.
He was the first chairman of the Technical Operations Council, giving early guidance and leadership in its development. For several years, he also chaired the Annual Meeting Committee. Dr. Nethercut was frequently TAPPI’s official representative at conferences and section meetings, providing valuable liaison between these groups and the association’s board.
His effectiveness in serving as TAPPI’s external ambassador of professional excellence was acknowledged when he received honors from several foreign associations. As the grand TAPPI and industry statesman, Dr. Nethercut was awarded both a Certificate of Merit by the Mexican Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry and a Diploma of Appreciation by the Brazilian Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry. Dr. Nethercut is a Certified Association Executive and recipient of the American Society of Association Executives’ highest honor, the ASAE Key Award. He was named a TAPP1 Fellow in 1968. He was knighted by Finland and appointed by that country to serve as Honorary Counsel in the State of Georgia in 1976. He also received the Georgia Society of Association Executives Clarke Award for Outstanding Association Executive in Georgia; and he’s listed in Who’s Who in the World.
Dr. Nethercut was a member of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives; Canadian Pulp and Paper Association Technical Section; Finnish Paper Engineers Association; Georgia Society of Association Executives; Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation; and TAPPI Empire State Section.
Dr. Nethercut retired as TAPPI’s board vice chairman in 1986. He and his wife, Lee, raised three children. In 1967, they built a second home in Vermont, where they enjoyed spending their summers. (Mr. Nethercut died in 2006)