George W. Thorne, an industry activist who was president of the Society of Plastics Engineers for the 1991-92 year, died 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 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, he 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 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. Washington-based 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.