W. Howard Rapson was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Sept 15, 1912.
His studies at the University of Toronto Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry earned him a doctorate degree in applied science in 1941.
Dr. Rapson was a research chemist at Canadian International Paper Company prior to joining the University of Toronto as a professor of chemical engineering in 1953. He became a professor emeritus in 1981 until his retirement in 1997.
Dr. Rapson can be considered to be the father of chlorine dioxide bleaching, one of the major developments in the history of the pulp and paper industry. The ability of chlorine dioxide to successfully bleach kraft pulp to high brightness without sacrificing strength was a significant advancement. It led to the wide-spread use of elemental chlorine free (ECF) bleaching sequences that are much friendlier to the environment. This advancement also broadened the use of kraft pulp in making white papers.
His leadership in the field of bleaching is illustrated by the fact that he was editor of the industrial textbook of the day, The Bleaching of Pulp (1963). He also has over 117 publications.
Dr. Rapson died on March 16, 1997. He and his wife, Mary Campbell Rapson, also deceased, had four children: three daughters (Margaret, Lorna, and Linda) and a son William, Jr.