Inventive plastics entrepreneur Woodrow Wilson Pearce, 96, died Nov. 6 in Glendale, Calif.
Pearce, who was born in Walnut Ridge, Ark., during the presidency of his namesake, Woodrow Wilson, had eight patents on proprietary technologies.
Woody Pearce left school after the 10th grade during the Great Depression, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, attended an aviation school and then became a fabricator of landing gear assemblies for a Missouri aircraft supplier. The firm promoted Pearce to foreman of the plant's steel-welding department at age 19 and then superintendent.
In 1942, Pearce went to California as a weld component assembler for an aircraft manufacturer and, at night, attended Plastic Institute of America classes. The instruction channeled some of his creativity and led in time to employment as a pattern maker and then model maker.
He went independent in Hollywood in 1945, making architectural models, clear plastic valve casings and large clear display panels. He created a prototype top hat for the 1952 film “Singin' in the Rain.”
He made synthetic cultured marble for several years. Accidentally overheated plastic prompted Pearce to toss sand onto the batch. He added color and had a new product line.
He designed a still-popular dispenser pump, created venting cap technology for chemical and cosmetic container applications and developed a double-wall automatic pet feeder dish. Later, his product extension led to the development of widely used automatic water and food dispensers for pets. He created numerous lines of caps and closures.
He continued to work with numerous distributors and operate Pearce Plastics in Pasadena, Calif., until March 2016 when Dennis Savalia merged the business within his Honor Plastics Inc. operation in Ontario, Calif.
Savalia said: “I had been in touch with Woody over many years. He selected me to take over his product lines.”
In a 2010 interview, Pearce explained his approach: “I have done it my way without having to ask for help. I guess I have been through this thing, and I do not give myself enough credit for what all I have done.”
Pearce was a member of the Rotary Club for 51 years. Survivors include his wife, Madeleine, and son, Cameron.
A funeral service will take place at 1 p.m. Nov. 14 in the chapel at Forest Lawn Mortuary, 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale.
A reception will take place from 2:30-5 p.m. at the Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Dr., Glendale.