Roy C. Whitney was born in Milo, Maine, on May 30, 1913. He completed his elementary and high school education in Milo. After graduation, he enrolled in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 1935. In 1937, he was awarded his master of science degree.
From 1936 to 1941 he was assistant director and then director, Bangor Station, School of Chemical Engineering Practice, located in what was then the Eastern Corporation pulp and paper plant, Brewer, Maine. He was an assistant professor of chemical engineering from 1939 until 1945, the year he earned his doctorate in chemical engineering.
Later that year, he went to work at the University of Maine in Orono as director of the department of industrial cooperation, followed by professor and acting head of the department of chemical engineering.
In 1947, Dr. Whitney joined The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin, as professor of chemical engineering and remained with the Institute until his retirement in 1979. During that time, he was also a research associate and group leader in chemical engineering and dean of the Institute. From 1958 to 1977, he was vice president of Academic Affairs; in 1977 he was vice president and assistant to the president; and in 1978, assistant to the president. Dr. Whitney retired in 1979 and is professor emeritus of chemical engineering. Upon his retirement, he was awarded an honorary Ad Eundum degree from Lawrence University on behalf of The Institute of Paper Chemistry.
Dr. Whitney’s most outstanding contribution to the pulp and paper industry was insuring a continuous flow of outstanding young men and women, principally in positions of research, development, production, and managerial leadership. The Institute of Paper Chemistry was recognized as the worldwide center of graduate education and research in areas related to the industry. He made certain that its position in this regard was secure. He was aware of the importance of information availability, and the Institute made important contributions through publication of its Abstract Bulletin and other research publications.
He was also largely responsible for the high regard with which the Institute was held in academic circles, where his expertise in engineering was greatly valued. Under his direction, research at the Institute was largely process oriented — this was important in the advances made in the fields of chemical recovery and paper machine design.
Dr. Whitney also made significant contributions to the paper industry at large throughout his career by providing high-level technical leadership. Industry representatives consulted Dr. Whitney regularly. His contributions have been most notable in the areas of chemical and energy recovery, forming, and drying. Applications have led to improved paper machine design and improved operations. Results of both academic and cooperative research at The Institute of Paper Chemistry were shared promptly through publications with supporting organizations, and subsequently with the industry worldwide.
Dr. Whitney’s professional society activities have included Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Fellow, Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry; TAPPI activities include chairman, engineering research committee, 1941-1943; chairman, chemical engineering committee, 1946-1948; chairman, fundamental research committee, 1958 -1961; general chairman, research and development division, 1962-1965; member, long range planning committee, 1968; member, board of directors, 1969-1972; Fellow, American Institute of Chemists; member, American Chemical Society; member, executive committee, Cellulose, Paper and Textiles Division, 1975-1981; chairman-elect, 1977, and chairman 1978, Cellulose, Paper, and Textiles Division; member, American Society for Engineering Education; and member, Alpha Chi Sigma, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi.
Dr. Whitney received national awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and from TAPPI. He is one of two non-Finnish recipients of the Pro Bono Labor Award of the Finnish Paper Engineers Association. He was awarded the TAPPI Medal in 1980.
Dr. Whitney and his wife, Virginia, raised two children. After his retirement, the Whitneys continued to live in Appleton, Wisconsin. A life long interest was photography and photo finishing. He especially enjoyed producing large prints in either black and white or color. Dr. Whitney also felt Wisconsin was a good place to hunt and fish, additional life long interests.