Updated — Bill Carteaux, the longtime head of the Plastics Industry Association, died Dec. 10 after a nearly three-year fight with acute myeloid leukemia.
Carteaux, 59, had led the association since 2005, moving to Washington, D.C., to assume leadership of the group after a long career in the plastics machinery industry.
While Carteaux and his family had been very public in chronicling his illness on social media, the death of the well-liked industry leader in the early morning hours still left many in shock.
Jay Gardiner, president of Gardiner Plastics Inc. in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and president of the Plastics Academy, said he spent part of Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9 with Carteaux and his family.
“I've never met anybody with the type of drive and forthrightness that Bill Carteaux had,” Gardiner said. “He was a friend to everyone and a constant champion for our industry.”
As well, Tad McGwire, president of Industrial Heater Corp. in Cheshire, Conn., and one of eight members of the association's executive board, said Carteaux's passing is being felt widely.
“We're all as much friends with Bill as we were colleagues,” he said. “To a person, we're devastated by the news and trying to process.”
McGwire said he'd known Carteaux for 30 years and was struck by the email chains and remembrances going around after he died, as many people talked about how Carteaux had influenced or mentored them.
“It's amazing to me, but not surprising, how many people have said, ‘I wouldn't be in the industry if not for Bill Carteaux,' or ‘I wouldn't be in my current job,'” McGwire said.
Carteaux's family said they appreciated the many people who reached out and offered support.
“We take great comfort in the fact that he was loved by so many people,” said Daniele Fresca, Carteaux's wife. “It underscores the tragedy of it, but it shows that he made a difference. What little comfort we can get, we try and see it that way.”