Martin Keyes

Martin Keyes was born on February 19, 1850 in Lempster, New Hampshire. He showed an early aptitude for invention by designing a new type of fishing reel as well as a line of furniture.  He worked with his brother to continue the family business, but became more interested in what could be done with wood.

This led him to join the Indurated Fiber Company of North Gorham, Maine that manufactured tubs, pails and pressed pulp wares. As Superintendent of Indurated, he obtained a number of patents providing protection for some of the company products.

Following an observation that workmen used pieces of veneer for plates, Keyes conceived the idea for developing plates of molded pulp.  He was eventually able to develop and patent a machine capable of making pulp molded pie plates.  Following some litigation to secure patent protection, Keyes was able to identify a pulp supplier and obtain financial backing to build a small mill in Shawmut, Maine. The first shipment of pie plates occurred in the summer of 1904, but the plant closed for a period in early 1905. Although the pie plates were superior to the competition, they were more expensive and not competitive.

After implementing significant price reduction steps and investing additional personal finances, Keyes was able to restart production.  Popularity of the pie plates increased significantly as a result of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which created a market for disposable dishes.

By 1908, Keyes Fiber had built a new mill in Waterville, Maine and had expanded the product line to include butter dishes and a “Picnic Package” that included different size plates.  In 1911, Keyes convinced his son-in-law, Dr. George Averill to join the company. He later succeeded Keyes as head of the company and the popularity of Keyes products has continued.  Keyes Fiber also expanded the product line to include rough, as well as smooth, molded pulp products for both the commercial and consumer markets.

Today, Keyes Fiber is part of Hutamaki, Waterville, Maine, and they continue to produce a variety of pulp-molded products including the well-known Chinet® items.

Martin Keyes died on November 18, 1914 in Fairfield, Maine.

Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfaffli

Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1916. She earned her M.Sc. degree from the Technical University of Helsinki in 1943 and started a career that lasted 68 years. In 1956, Ilvessalo-Pfäffli married Samuel Pfäffli, Licentiate of Technology.
Ilvessalo-Pfäffli’s career started at KCL (Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute) in Helsinki, Finland followed by STFI in Stockholm, Sweden, Wiggins Teape in Scotland and back to KCL again. In 1954, she was appointed head of microscopy research of pulp and paper and board at KCL. In her last position at KCL, she held the right to sign officially (Per procuram) the fiber analysis documents on behalf KCL. Samples from all over the world were sent for analysis to Ilvessalo-Pfäffli, an internationally highly regarded specialist. Formally she retired when she was 65 but for a number of years continued coming to the institute every morning in the same manner as she had always done.
The value of fiber analysis has rather increased than diminished. Ilvessalo-Pfäffli developed the methodology responding to such needs and making full use of the fascinating development of the scanning electron microscopes that she was able to witness during her long career. She also developed a semi-automatic recorder for the measurement of fiber dimensions.
Later, Ilvessalo-Pfäffli worked privately concentrating in writing and editing her book Fiber Atlas that can be regarded as a “Bible” for fiber microscopists. This book comprises 400 pages and 385 figures and is an excellent guide for anybody involved in fiber analysis. It is a masterwork providing information not only on the structure of the fibers but also on the geographic distribution of the relevant tree species. It covers 29 wood samples from Eurasia, 39 from North America, 16 from the southern hemisphere and the tropics and 34 of non-wood origin. The first edition was sold out long ago but the second will come out soon. Besides Fiber Atlas, Ilvessalo-Pfäffli published a number of papers, gave presentations, participated in permanent and ad hoc working groups and was “mother”, mentor and teacher of several younger scientists, some of whom became her successors.
She was one of the very first prominent women in the world of papermakers. Twice she was given merit awards by the Finnish Paper Engineers Association.
Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli died on April 3, 2013. She and her husband Samuel Pfäffli had two daughters, Heidi and Elisa.

George Herbert Tomlinson

George H. Tomlinson was born on June 19, 1880, son of R. H. Tomlinson of Toronto, Ontario. He received his BA in 1901 from Trinity College in Toronto and, in 1946, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from the Bishop’s University.

Tomlinson held executive positions as Director of Research at Riorden Pulp and Paper Company, and Technical Director of Research and Vice President at Howard Smith Paper Company.

Tomlinson’s invention of the chemical recovery furnace in 1932 was critical in advancing the Kraft pulping process to the dominant wood pulping method that it is today. His revolutionary invention recovered the heat value of waste organic material in black liquor while reducing sulfur to sulfide and collecting the sulfide and sodium in a molten sodium carbonate smelt. 

Within 10 years, the superior economic advantages of the Tomlinson furnace (particularly the recovery of heat as steam needed to heat digesters, paper dryers, etc.) and the fact that it efficiently recycled pulping chemicals enabled the Kraft process to overtake the sulfite process in production tonnage. Many improvements have been made to Tomlinson’s initial design, but many of its basic features remain unchanged.

Tomlinson’s success with the recovery process should not overshadow his successes as a wood chemist and research leader. In 1908, as an early career scientist working with the Ewen brothers of Chicago, he developed a process to produce ethyl alcohol from wood waste. Commercial plants were built in South Carolina and Louisiana, with the South Carolina plant operated by the DuPont de Nemours Powder Company. As with the recovery furnace invented 24 years later, the wood-to-alcohol plants were based on a detailed understanding of both commercial and chemical process requirements.

As Technical Director of Research at Howard Smith Paper Company, Tomlinson was involved in developing commercial methods to separate lignin from black liquor, use lignin to produce a laminated panel called Arborite, and collect vanillin from sulfite pulping liquors. His research also led to the development of the magnesium-based sulfite pulping process. In addition to many others, he has three key US Patents dealing with the Tomlinson process.

In 1948, Tomlinson was awarded the Canada Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry of England for his outstanding contributions to the Chemical Industry in Canada. In 1951, he received the nineteenth TAPPI Medal.

George Tomlinson died in Montreal on August 2, 1958. He and his wife had five children.

Arne J.A. Asplund

Arne Asplund was born in Skon, Sweden, on August 27, 1903. He journeyed to the US in 1923, working at several paper companies, including one in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Following a recommendation from a friend, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, almost gave up because of lack of money, but decided to continue by working his way through and graduated with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering in 1927.

Asplund invented the steam-pressurized refining process, leading to a very important technology for producing thermo-mechanical pulp (TMP) and chemi-TMP, which eventually evolved into a branch of the technology called semi-chemical pulping.

Asplund took his process from an idea, in 1931, through pilot plant research that resulted in co-founding of Defibrator AB in 1933 to commercialize his process for which he was granted a patent in 1934.  In 1968, the first commercial paper industry application with a Defibrator Refining System was installed in Sweden. Further commercialization resulted in many millions of tons of fiberboard and other materials produced in efficient and cost-effective plants worldwide. This virtually revolutionized the pulp and paper industry in the 1970s.

Not many individuals take a scientific/engineering concept from the beginning through development to an ongoing commercial process used worldwide, with tremendous impact on the industry.

Later, Sunds and Defibrator merged to form Sunds Defibrator. Asplund retired in 1979, but continued his inventive ways with more than 50 patents.

Among honors he received are the TAPPI Gold Medal, the University of Wisconsin Distinguished Service Citation, the National Swedish Board for Technical Development prize and the Ekman Gold Medal of the Swedish Association of Pulp and Paper Engineers. He was elected Fellow of the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and Fellow of TAPPI. He was also awarded a Doctorate h.c. by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

In recognition of his achievements, the Arne Asplund Mechanical Pulping Award is now awarded to encourage the development of new pulping technologies.

After living most of his life in Lidingö, just outside of Stockholm, Sweden, Arne Asplund died on November 4, 1993.


Hardev S. (Doug) Dugal

Hardev S. (Doug) Dugal was born in Bereilly, India on February 1, 1937. He obtained a B.Sc. degree in chemistry from Agra University, a M.S. degree, Chem. Tech. from Harcourt Butler Technological Institute (HBTI) in India, a Dr. Ing. (Ph.D.) in Chemical Eng. from what is now the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany and then a business diploma from LaSalle Extension University of Chicago. He married Mona Ahuja in 1968.

Dugal’s major employment experience in the U.S. began with the Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, WI where he stayed for 21 years (1964-66 and 1988-1987)  and quickly rose to be one of the directors. He developed new environmental courses, opened additional research areas and guided many student research programs. For a few years, he was chairman of the Academic Dept. of Special Studies and chairman of the Ph.D. Thesis Committee. While at IPC, he represented the United States as member of its delegation to UNEP (UN’s Environmental Program) for 5 years. From 1987 to 1989, Dugal worked at the James River Corporation.  His report on the making of bulky fibers from this phase of his career is still an important resource used by their research staff.

In 1989, Dugal took on a high-risk challenge as he left a lucrative job to co-found Integrated Paper Services, Inc. (IPS), with other co-founders George Mueller, Salman Aziz, Craig Booher, Edith Crocket and Dave Rades, that resulted in a successful business. Dugal served as President of IPS Inc. from 1989 to 2000 and then as CEO from 2000 to 2002 during which time IPS grew from eight to over 40 employees serving roughly 700 clients per year (based on billing locations). He also developed and taught 8-12 continuing education courses per year for the industry with over 1200 receiving training. In Dec. 2007, Dugal sold his interests in IPS and went on to other projects.

In 1992, Dugal co-founded the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame and served it as a Board member and Secretary for nearly 20 years, writing its guidelines and largely running the office for its first five years.

Some of Dugal’s most noted work has been in communicating about the paper industry to the general public. He has written over 100 regular columns, “The Paper Report”, about the industry for the Post-Crescent newspaper in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, which has an estimated circulation of about 70,000 including access from the online edition. He has helped his readers understand the well-known saying that “paper is the carrier of civilization”.  He has been major advocate for innovation in the industry, and has boldly warned of the need to “innovate or perish.” Dugal has served on nine Boards and has been an active member of over seven professional organizations including 50-year membership in TAPPI. He has published 40 technical papers, over a dozen major research reports and a book, Dard Hunter Watermarks, coauthored with Douglas Stone.

Honors he received include TAPPI Herman Joachim Distinguished Service Award (2014); Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and Charles and Adele Heater Outstanding Community Leadership Award (2009); TAPPI’s Outstanding Local Section Member Award (1991); TAPPI Fellow (1988); TAPPI Environmental Division Award (1987); Roy P. Weston Prize (1987); and Shalimar Gold Medal from IPPTA (1977).

Hardev S. (Doug) Dugal passed away on December 13, 2017.


William Markley Gilbert

William Markley Gilbert (WMG) was born on July 25, 1852 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into a family with considerable papermaking experience. In 1870, at the age of 18, WMG went back to Philadelphia from Chicago to learn the paper manufacturing business from his uncle, Theodore Megargee. He married Priscilla A. Hartsook in Chicago and moved to Neenah, Wisconsin in 1882.

While young WMG was visiting paper mills in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin, he met George A. Whiting, who was managing the Winnebago Paper Mills in Neenah.  In 1880, they formed a company called Gilbert & Whiting Paper, and began construction on a new rag mill located on the west end of the canal in Menasha, Wisconsin. A few years later, WMG sold his interest to George A. Whiting.

In 1887, the Gilbert Paper Company was organized by William Gilbert Sr. in association with his four sons and a daughter with eldest son WMG as General Manager. It was built with a $100,000 initial investment and included an envelope and box factory. When William Gilbert, Sr. died in 1900, WMG became the President. Under his leadership, the Gilbert Paper Company introduced the first mechanical tub-size, air-drying machine in the industry in 1890 making the old method of pole drying obsolete. In 1894, the company was the first to make fine writing paper from a combination of wood and rag fibers; introduced the first successful revolving suction box and created the paper industry’s only patented dandy roll in 1900 that included a shaded watermark. Other firsts for Gilbert Paper included the use of opacifying agents, and mechanically localized watermarks.

WMG established the paper industry’s first quality-control laboratory, and developed unique early mechanical paper sorting devices. In 1902, Gilbert Paper is credited with developing the first cockle finish bond paper in the USA. Gilbert Paper set the national quality standard for fine writing paper for which demand was created by the popularity of the typewriter in the 1890’s and early 20th century. WMG built a network of paper merchants from Chicago to New York to develop a competitive advantage in sales and distribution leading to the sale of currency paper to the governments of Russia, China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and U.S.A. The Gilbert Paper Company was sold to Mead Corporation in 1960 and then to Fox River Paper in 2001. The Neenah Paper Company now holds the rights to produce Gilbert Bond.

WMG was a founder of the Wisconsin Papermakers Association, a founder of the Western Book Manufacturers Association and President of the National Manufacturers Bank of Neenah, Wisconsin.  Gilbert was fifty-seven years old when his wife Priscilla died in Neenah on April 17, 1909. In 1911, he married Molly Felker of Oshkosh.

William Markley Gilbert died on January 9, 1926.