William Rittenhouse

Wilhelm Rittinghausen, born in 1644, learned the papermaking trade in Mulheim, Germany, while working at his uncle Mathias Vorster’s mill. The two men later went to Holland, where they were employed in a Gelderland mill near Arnhem. In 1688, Mr. Rittinghausen, by now a Dutch citizen, emigrated to British North America and changed his name to William Rittenhouse. In 1690, he established a paper mill on the Monoshone Creek near Germantown, which is now Philadelphia. Joining him in the venture were three partners, Robert Turner, Thomas Tresse, and a printer named William Bradford.

Mr. Rittenhouse’s knowledge and skill played a major role in this courageous undertaking. His ability to organize financial backers as partners and a printer-partner as a contractual customer for the products led to an expedient and successful enterprise. Previous to this operation, all paper was imported from Europe and taxed accordingly. The new mill provided a local source of printing, writing, and wrapping paper, as well as pasteboard. Mr. Rittenhouse could well be called America’s father of recycling, since all of the mill’s fiber for hand papermaking was obtained from discarded rags and cotton.

In 1706, Mr. Rittenhouse bought out the other partners and became sole proprietor of Rittenhouse Paper Mill. He, and later his son, Claus, trained and developed a versatile work force to produce good products. This eventually led to starting up additional mills in Pennsylvania. Mr. Rittenhouse proved that papermaking in America could be a viable, economically sound business. Thus began the saga a vital and dynamic industry that fulfilled a significant role in America’s growth.

Mr. Rittenhouse died in 1708 and left the paper mill to his son, Claus. The business prospered at the site, and was operated by six generations of family descendants. For twenty years, Rittenhouse Paper Mill was the only paper mill in the Colonies. In 1710, William Dewees, who was married to Claus Rittenhouse’s sister, built a mill nearby in Chestnut Hill, having learned the trade at Rittenhouse Paper Mill. In 1729, the Willcox Ivey Mill was built in Chester County.

Forty years after the founding of Rittenhouse Paper Mill, the number of printers and paper mills grew exponentially. The Rittenhouse family monopoly in paper was over, but Mr. Rittenhouse’s descendants continued making paper on the Monoshone Creek until the 19th Century Industrial Revolution, when the development of the Fourdrinier, with its endless web and cylinder papermaking, changed the industry forever.

Thomas Busch

Thomas W. Busch was born in Kimberly, Wisconsin, in 1923. Following his graduation from Kimberly High School, he attended college for two years before joining the United States Air Force in 1942. He achieved the rank of Captain and served as a meteorologist. In 1946, he returned to college under the G.I. Bill; in addition, he applied to the Rotary Club for a loan.

Fred Heinritz, Sr., who was then president and general manager of The Appleton Coated Paper Company, was on the loan committee and told Mr. Busch to stop in to see him when he finished college, because there might be a job for him. There was, and Mr. Busch started work the day after he graduated from Lawrence University.

The research function in the company in 1948 dealt with those technical activities associated with the paper business, such as measuring properties of papers, measuring flow of coatings, and testing of finished products. The main thrust in the laboratory at that time was developing products for which the marketing department saw a need, pursuing quality control, and developing methods to coat papers.

Fundamental research and the discovery of new information began in 1954 when Mr. Busch worked with chemists from NCR Corporation to modify the basic carbonless paper formulations, allowing them to be commercially coated. Through his laboratory and manufacturing skills, along with his dedication to his profession, Appleton Papers was established as the world leader in the manufacture of carbonless and thermal papers.

During his career, Mr. Busch pursued a systematic approach in identifying the issues and concerns that had to be dealt with, working out a plan to solve those problems. Known for his superior insight in technology, people, and business, Mr. Busch helped establish teams for basic research and applied research and development engineering. Team members consisted of cross functional employees from research and development, manufacturing, and finance.

Mr. Busch conceived the idea for on-line paper machine production for carbonless paper. He assembled and directed a problem-solving team and made on-line manufacturing a possibility. This success led to the converting of old mills to carbonless manufacturing, turning marginal mills into profitable companies. Other ideas of his that were managed and implemented included flexo and bill blade coating on the paper machine; high velocity drying; high solids coating; tandem coating; and in-line calender.

Mr. Busch recognized the value of education to generate information that the industry could implement. He used The Institute of Paper Chemistry for testing, information, and space. He also recognized the value of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), and he strongly encouraged his coworkers and associates to participate.

Over the years, Mr. Busch made many significant contributions to TAPPI through his writing. In 1968, he was a contributing author to the book Industrial and Specialty Paper. TAPPI articles included Coated Weight Controls, 1965; Paper Coating Additives, 1966; The Shape of the Future, 1978; TAPPI Monograph Paper Coating Additives, 1978; Future Technical Needs and Trends, 1979; Productivity, 1980; Coated Paper Production, 1980; and Innovating for Profit Venice, 1980.

Mr. Busch has received patents for the method for the manufacture of double coated sheets with pressure rupturable materials, 1972; method and means for coating paper with pressure rupturable fluids containing capsules, 1971; and high-speed means and methods for emulsion coating thin paper, 1967. Through his contributions in coating rheology, base paper, coating interface concepts, and pre-coated papers, a new industry was born with worldwide sales of over six billion dollars annually. In the industry, his technological contributions have been applied in both on-machine and off-machine coating. His contributions have made possible the elimination of several steps in the manufacturing process.

TAPPI has referred to carbonless paper as “one of the outstanding paper-related innovations of the past half century, matched perhaps only by the invention of the xerographic imaging process.” The testimony to carbonless paper’s success is the public’s demand for it.

Mr. Busch has held memberships in the American Chemical Society; American Management Association; Graphic Arts Research Council; Graphic Arts Technical Foundation; and TAPPI. He also served as a director of TAPPI, and in 1978 he became a Fellow. In 1981, he received TAPPI’s Coating and Graphic Arts Division Award; and in 1986, he received the Community Service Award from the Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA).

In his 37 years with Appleton Papers Inc., Mr. Busch advanced through the ranks from chemist to chairman and chief executive officer, with much of his career focusing on research and development. He retired in 1985 at age 62 to care for his wife, who was ill.

Mr. Busch and his late wife, Genevieve, raised seven children. Besides his professional and family responsibilities, he has been an active participant in his community and church, having served as a director of Appleton Rotary Club; Appleton YMCA; Fox Valley Symphony; Junior Achievement; United Way; Villa Hope; Franciscan Health Care, Inc.; Xavier Foundation; and St. Elizabeth Hospital. Mr. Busch maintained his home in Appleton and continued his volunteer activities with St. Joseph’s Food Program until his death in 1999.

John McGovern

John N. McGovern was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1907. He attended public school and graduated from Milwaukee West High School. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1929, with a bachelor of science degree, Dr. McGovern went to work as a research scientist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. In 1930, he earned a master of science degree, and in 1936, he earned his doctor of philosophy degree, both from the University of Wisconsin.

In 1954, Dr. McGovern went to work for Parsons and Whittemore as chief process engineer and vice president. From 1969 until 1975, he was professor of forestry at the University of Wisconsin.

In a career that spanned government, industry, and academics, Dr. McGovern was best known for developing new pulping techniques. He especially contributed to the improvement of semichemical pulping and pioneered in chemimechanical pulping. Dr. McGovern’s research on pulping of nonwood fibers expanded the raw material supply for manufacturers.

Dr. McGovern laid the foundation for the commercialization of numerous sources of fiber through his research, investigation, and personal exchange of ideas. As a college professor, his accomplishments and exceptional standards of professionalism inspired and benefited his students. He also promoted greater cooperation between the University of Wisconsin — Forestry Department, the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory and the pulp and paper industries throughout Wisconsin.

While at the Forest Products Laboratory, Dr. McGovern was instrumental in developing the cold soda pulping process, which can convert 90 percent of raw wood to usable pulp. At the end of World War II, he served as scientific consultant to the International Corporation Administration, where he investigated the rebuilding of a viable pulp and paper industry in Europe. While with Parsons and Whittemore, he directed the process engineering work for more than forty pulp and paper projects around the world, and contributed significantly to improved methods and equipment arrangements for handling wood and other nonfibrous raw materials, such as straw, bagasse (what is left of sugarcane after the sugar is removed), and bamboo.

His legacy of more than 150 papers provided leading-edge scientific insights at the given time of need. He was also a contributor to college textbooks, reference books, encyclopedias, and TAPPI monographs.

Dr. McGovern’s membership in professional organizations included the Forest History Association of Wisconsin, Center of History in Chemistry; Academy of Sciences, Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York. In 1968, he became a Fellow, Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), and in 1986, he received the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. McGovern was personally interested in biblical archaeology and ancient writing materials, and he contributed to two major exhibits that were organized by the University of Wisconsin Department of Hebrew and Scientific studies. He also enjoyed collecting 20th Century art.

Dr. McGovern died in March 1995 and is survived by two daughters and a son, Dr. Diane Billings, Dr. Jill McGovern, and John, a certified public accountant.

George Kress

George F. Kress was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1903. He was educated in the public school system, after which he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1925. Following his graduation, he went to work for the accounting firm, H.C. Hopson, Inc. in New York.

In 1926, Mr. Kress returned to Green Bay to assist his father with his horse collar and wooden box business. Upon his return, Mr. Kress married his fiance, Marguerite, and they worked together to develop the box business. In 1933, Green Bay Box Company began to manufacture corrugated shipping containers, followed by folding cartons in 1942. In 1948, Green Bay Pulp & Paper Company was formed to produce corrugating medium for use at Green Bay Box.

Marguerite worked along side her husband for many years, and it was not unusual for her to bring their children to work with her. In the formative years, both of the Kresses became involved in all aspects of boxmaking and business management. As their efforts began to bear fruit, Mr. Kress had the foresight to reinvest the proceeds in the business and eventually branch out into related fields. Working with friends and family, Mr. Kress built an idea into a business that now transcends not only local and state boundaries but which has a significant international presence. Mrs. Kress was active in the business until 1935, but she continued to do some corporate work from her home.

Mr. Kress has many “firsts” to his credit. He was the first to recognize the potential of corrugating medium, which was made by using the semi-chemical method of wood preparation. Working with the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, the Green Bay mill commercialized what had been considered an interesting experiment. The entire packaging industry now uses the same or related technology to make fluting paper.

The Green Bay mill was the first in the industry to develop the concept and practice of zero discharge technology as it applies to process wastewaters. Long before it became fashionable, Green Bay Packaging recognized its environmental stewardship responsibility. The origins of many of the ecologically responsible technologies being implemented into today’s state-of-the-art paper mills can be traced to Green Bay Packaging.

Green Bay Packaging was the first to develop 100 percent recycled packaging grades that actually outperformed their virgin counterparts. This eventually led to the establishment of the “mini-mill” concept, which resulted in the enhanced recovery and reuse of used corrugated containers. The company pioneered many industry advances in both technology and application, and the knowledge was shared without fear of damaging what might be considered a competitive advantage.

Although it wasn’t commonplace 20 years ago, the concept of totally effluent free (TEF) pulping was first implemented at Green Bay Packaging in the mid-1970s. Once again, the company concluded that the development was too important to keep secret. Although the original pulp mill has been discontinued, various embodiments of the concept are operating throughout the world.

During his career, Mr. Kress has held memberships in the Fibre Box Association; Folding Paper Box Association of America; and the American Forest & Paper Association (American Paper Institute).

His professional honors have included the William H. MacDonald Award from the United Way of Brown County in recognition for services to the organization, in which he introduced the concept of payroll deduction to the local area. In 1983, he was the first to receive the Green Bay Rotary Club Free Enterprise Award for outstanding contributions to the American free enterprise system; in 1984, he received the Wisconsin Governor’s Award in Support of the Arts; in 1986, he received both the Norman Vincent Peale Award and Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Wisconsin — Madison School of Business. The United Way of Brown County established an annual “George E. Kress Corporate Support Award” to acknowledge his commitment to and support of the community. St. Norbert College also bestowed upon him an honorary doctor of law degree.

Mr. Kress has served as president and chairman of the board for Green Bay Packaging Inc. and, after, as honorary chairman, until his death in 1997. He and Marguerite were married for 70 years. Sadly, Mrs. Kress did not live to see her husband inducted into The Paper Industry Hall of Fame. She died on Saturday, August 31, 1996. The Kresses’ son, James, is chairman of Green Bay Packaging and their other two children, Don and Marilyn, serve on the board.

Ernst Mahler

rnst Mahler was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1887. In 1912, he graduated with distinction from Technische Hochschule (Technical University) Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany, where he studied industrial chemistry, having specialized in cellulose chemistry and the scientific study of papermaking.

Mr. Mahler joined Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Neenah, Wisconsin, in 1914 as a paper chemist. He established the first research and development department at Kimberly-Clark and one of the first in the industry. Mr. Mahler helped to accelerate the company’s use of chemical controls in papermaking and led the firm in the development of many of today’s standard paper and pulp products.

The first creped wadding in the United States was developed by Kimberly-Clark, with Mr. Mahler providing the knowledge and experience. The commercialization of his creped wadding technology led to the establishment of a multibillion dollar industry in the United States and around the world. This fluffy wadding product was first used as a substitute for cotton in surgical dressings during World War I. From this, Kimberly-Clark created dozens of creped wadding products, including such trademark names as Kotex and Kleenex.

Mr. Mahler led Kimberly-Clark in the development of the first refiner groundwood pulp and its use in making bookpaper. For many years after 1915, practically all rotogravure in the country was on groundwood bookpaper from Kimberly-Clark mills.

He authorized the first high-speed experimental forming unit to further research on tissue and papermaking, which led to the development of the crescent former tissue-making process.

In 1929, Mr. Mahler was one of the original founders of the world-famous Institute of Paper Chemistry, an affiliate of Lawrence College. The institute became a major contributor to the technological depth and breadth supporting the paper industry. Further, it has been a source of highly-trained scientific and managerial professions for the paper industry. Mr. Mahler served the institute as its first president and as board chairman. Later he was made honorary chairman.

Mr. Mahler also helped found the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) and was the recipient in 1932 of the gold medal award for contributions to the industry. His part in founding the institute and TAPPI were cited by Brown University when it awarded him an honorary doctor of science degree in 1937.

During World War 1I, he was a member of the purchase policy division of the Army Service Forces and helped formulate policies, review legislation, and implement utilization of small war plants. For nearly five months in 1945, he was in Europe as an expert consultant in charge of paper production and organization rehabilitation of the paper industry in Belgium, Holland, France, and Germany. Mr. Mahler also served as a member of the United States Reparations Commission in Russia, Berlin, and Potsdam. In 1946, he was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the War Department and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Mahler retired in 1952. During his 38-year career with Kimberly-Clark, he served the company as a chemist; technical director; general superintendent; vice president of operations; and executive vice president. He held professional memberships in TAPPI; National Association of Manufacturers; American Pulp and Paper Industry; and The Institute of Paper Chemistry.

In addition, he was a trustee of Lawrence College and a director for Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company; Neenah First National Bank; Milwaukee First Wisconsin National Bank; First Wisconsin Trust Company; Wisconsin Bankshare Corporation; president of the Neenah Municipal Museum Foundation; and vice president of the American Horse Show Association United States Olympic Equestrian Team.

In 1954, Lawrence College awarded him an honorary doctor of law degree, and in 1958, Technical University Darmstadt awarded him an honorary doctor of engineering degree.

Mr. Mahler died in 1967 at the age of 79. He and his wife had two children, Ernst Jr. and Mrs. Richard (Polly) Stafford.

Eduard Küsters

Eduard Küsters was born in Germany in 1905. Between the years 1911 and 1919, he attended Volksschule Crefeld-Fischeln, followed by two years at Gewerbliche Tagesschule Crefeld. In 1920, he graduated from Handwerker und Kunstgewerbeschule Crefeld as a journeyman.

Mr. Küsters received his practical training with Gebr. Schroers Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik, Crefeld, between 1920 and 1923, after which he became a fitter and design engineer. Between the years 1926 and 1943, he worked for Deutsche Edelstahlwerke, Krefeld (by this time, the city had changed the spelling of its name) as a master craftsman and chief instructor, followed by six years as technical director at Dornbusch and Company, Krefeld. In 1949, he opened a development center for textile machinery in Krefeld, and in 1953, when he was 48 years old, he founded Eduard Kusters Maschinenfabrik.

Mr. Küsters’ fields of professional specialization include finishing of textile fabric, finishing of paper (calendering), and continuous production of wood fiber board (cardboard).

He holds 450 German patents and about 3000 patents worldwide, including the United States Patent for pressure treatment of material and for continuous press. Most notable is his patent for the development of the self-aligning Swimming Roll Kusters to control press nips in press sections and the nips in machine calenders, soft calenders and super calenders. The first application of the Swimming Roll Küsters was for padders used to dye textile fabrics, the two swimming rolls controlling the nip.

In 1960, the first Swimming Roll Küsters was installed in the press section of a paper machine. Starting in 1961, the paper industry worldwide acknowledged this invention. Today, there is no paper or board machine that does not feature in each press nip and in each calender self-aligning rolls that make the control of the nip possible and, hence, the control of the paper and board profile. Regardless of who the suppliers may be today, the technology is based on the unique idea and invention of Mr. Küsters, and Eduard Küsters Maschinenfabrik is still the leading manufacturer in the field. The technological advances of this invention were the key to the increase of paper and board width from 200 inches up to 400 inches and increased profile correctness, providing manufacturers with considerable economic advantages.

Under his leadership, Eduard Küsters Maschinenfabrik also has additional improved designs on the market today, such as the Hydro Vario Roll and the Multi Hydro Vario Roll, where the nip can be controlled zonewise enabling control to decrease breakage and increase sheet consistency.

Mr. Küsters held professional memberships in Verein Deutscher lngenieure; Gesellschaft der Freunde und Forderer der Staatlichen lngenieurschule fur Maschinenwesn, Krefeld; VTCC Verein der Textilchemiker und Coloristen, Heidelberg; SVFSchweiz. Vereinigung von Farbereifachleuten, Basel; and he was a member of the board of examiners for lndustrie unt Handelskammer, Krefeld.

In 1978, Mr. Küsters received the Max-Krehren-Medaillie through “Der Verein Deutscher Farber e.V.”

Mr. Küsters died in 1987, and condolences were sent from papermakers all over the world. All of those letters emphasized Eduard Küsters’ contribution to the paper industry, since his invention made possible the breakthrough in the concept of paper machines as they are known today. He is survived by his widow, who lives in Krefeld.


Austin Cofrin

Austin E. Cofrin was born in Bradford, New Hampshire in 1883. He had only a grade school education. His father died when he was 13, and he had to help his mother on the farm in New Hampshire. At age 16, he got his first job in a paper mill, where he worked as a coating machine helper. He worked in numerous other paper mills in New England until he moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1911, where he worked as a supervisor at Northern Paper Mill. In 1919, when he was 36, Mr. Cofrin, along with a few dozen employees, founded a small paper company on the west shore of the Fox River.His fierce independence, rugged individualism, resourcefulness, leadership, and drive set the character of a company — Fort Howard Corporation — that has prospered and grown to be one of the largest tissue products paper companies in the world.

Mr. Cofrin’s resourcefulness was a great advantage in the early days of the company. He started a machine shop to service the mill equipment and later to build converting machines needed to convert the operation’s steadily increasing production. Equipment was so well maintained that the company’s first two paper machines from the 1920s have long since been sold but are still producing paper overseas. Some converting equipment from the early days is still in operation at the Green Bay mill.

Technically innovative, Mr. Cofrin spent many hours personally involved in reconfiguring paper machine production to increase speed and efficiency. Many of his ideas became standard for future generations of paper machines. Always conservative in his capital expenditures, Mr. Cofrin spent a considerable amount of time attending machinery auctions and sales, rather than paying full price for new equipment. Nevertheless, Fort Howard operations were enormously efficient. That legacy continues today. Of the eleven largest tissue paper machines in the world, Fort Howard owns and operates nine of them.

In the mid-1930s, Mr. Cofrin became convinced that the company could produce a high-quality product by mixing recycled pulp with virgin pulp and groundwood. The company’s research and development department worked for months on the process. The first rail car of wastepaper was purchased for recycling by Fort Howard in 1936 or 1937.

Mr. Cofrin’s vision for wastepaper recycling preceded that of general society by approximately 50 years. In the years since the first carload of wastepaper reached Fort Howard, the company’s recycling technology has continued to evolve. Today, its deinking technology is considered among the most sophisticated in the world. Fort Howard’s recycling expertise allows it to recycle 50 different grades of wastepaper, including grades others find difficult to process. With the company’s near-total commitment to wastepaper fiber for its operations, it consumes approximately 1.4 million tons each year, an amount that would fill a 100-acre landfill to a depth of 18 feet.

Mr. Cofrin’s pragmatic vision for wastepaper recycling almost six decades ago was duly recognized in 1991 when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Fort Howard with its first corporate award for national recycling leadership.

The classic self-made man, Mr. Cofrin built an organization that today is a model for others. Fort Howard was and is lean, focused, and devoted to a core business. Its efficiencies are legendary. The personal qualities that Mr. Cofrin instilled in his organization in its early decades are still evident in the company today: independence, self-sufficiency, pragmatism, commitment to employees, and just plain hard work.

Mr. Cofrin, known affectionately as A.E. by his employees and business associates, served as president of the company until 1960, when he passed the mantle of leadership to his son, John. Throughout his career, he was an unpretentious, hands-on manager, not afraid to dirty his hands and work directly with mill personnel to deal with problems. His commitment to his company was total, and it was not uncommon for him to sleep on a cot in the basement of the mill to be near the action.

Mr. Cofrin died in 1980 at age 96. In 1995, Fort Howard employees and families celebrated the company’s 75th anniversary with special entertainment at the Weidner Performing Arts Center in Green Bay. It was coincidental but altogether fitting that the show was held in the Cofrin Family Center, which was built with contributions from the Cofrin family and is a legacy to the mark that Mr. Cofrin left on the community and his company.

Fort Howard and James River merged in 1997 to form a new company, Fort James.