FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (Aug. 18, 4:10 p.m. ET) — George W. Thorne, an industry activist who was president of the Society of the Plastics Engineers for the 1991-1992 year, died on Aug. 14. He was 87.
Thorne was a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for more than 40 years. He was president of Industrial Plastic Products Inc. in Miami Lakes, Fla., a custom injection molder and profile extruder, selling the company in 2006.
A celebration of Thorne's life will be held Saturday, Aug. 20 from 3 to 6 pm at the Sea Cadet headquarters, 300 SW 25th St., Fort Lauderdale
. Veronika Thorne said the location is fitting because her husband was a big supporter of the Sea Cadet youth program and was instrumental in finding the headquarters.
A native of London, Thorne was known for his upbeat nature and good humor. But he overcame hardships early in his life.
His father died while Thorne was young. As a teenager, Thorne got help from Quakers in England, who placed him in a toolmaker's apprenticeship program. Thorne became a mold maker, and entered the plastics industry in the late 1930s, when companies were starting to injection mold cellulose acetate.
He served the Royal Air Force in World War II, surviving a plane crash, and continued as a freelance mold maker and consultant.
Thorne installed plastic equipment and trained employees in India, Africa, South America, Mexico and the United States.
He became SPE president at the 1991 Antec conference, held in Montreal. In his acceptance speech, Thorne called for more training, especially calling for more video training. “The educational training of production and maintenance personnel, supervisors and mold-makers is an area which has been sadly neglected by our equipment manufacturers in the past, and it will be one of my main areas of emphasis without our industry during the coming year,” he said.
In 1999, Thorne won the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Distinguished Service Award. SPI honored Thorne for giving many lectures to local civic groups and schools on plastics technology, recycling, and careers. He donated plastics equipment to the University of Florida.
Thorne was a member in the Plastics Pioneers Association.
George Thorne and Veronika, his wife of nearly 55 years, went on frequent cruises. Veronika Thorne said the couple went on a cruise on the Black Sea in Europe in late June and early July.
A private family church service was held Aug. 14 in Miami. Fred Hunter Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale handled the services.