CLEVELAND - Stephen D. Hiltebrant, a founding member of the Society of Plastics Engineers in Detroit, died Feb. 27 in Cleveland. He was 81. During his 58-year plastics career, Hiltebrant met several titans of American industry, including Bakelite inventor Leo H. Baekeland, Henry Ford and Edwin Land, who took his picture with a prototype of the instant camera.
Until just recently, Hiltebrant continued to work part time at the firm he started in 1953, Hiltebrant Industrial Sales Inc. in Rocky River, Ohio. The cause of death was cancer and diabetes.
Hiltebrant started working for Bakelite in 1937. He helped develop the company's display for the 1939 World's Fair, then was moved to New York to explain the thermoset material to visitors to the Museum of Science and Industry. Bakelite then sent him to Detroit. Hiltebrant left Bakelite to become sales manager of General Industries Co. in Elyria, Ohio, a plastics molder.
He is survived by his wife, Adeline; sons Stephen L. and Gregory S.; stepsons Barry, Brian, Brett and Brady McCann; two grandchildren; and one stepgrandchild. His first wife, Elnora, is deceased.
Son Stephen continues to run Hiltebrant Industrial Sales.