Stone Harbor, N.J. — Lew Ferguson, a blow molding expert who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers' blow molding division, died Nov. 26 due to complications from myelodysplastic syndrome. He was 78.
Lewis Ellis Ferguson III grew up in Millville, N.J., and started out in glass packaging, working two summers at Wheaton Industries while in college.
Ferguson's plastics and blow molding career began in 1965, shortly after he graduated from Rutgers University with a chemistry degree and began working at Escambia Chemical. There he helped develop clear PVC blow moldable compounds with impact modifiers.
Later he helped commercialize blow molded ABS, serving in key positions at Borg Warner's plastics group and GE Plastics. That helped blow molding move beyond packaging to durable long-lasting parts.
"One of my personal contributions was to try to get engineering materials to the market, because everything in the beginning was high density polyethylene," Ferguson said in a speech a year ago at SPE's Annual Blow Molding Conference in Atlanta. "I was extremely fortunate to work with two big companies that were very supportive of blow molding."
Ferguson also enjoyed a front-row seat to creation of SPE's blow molding division. After joining SPE in 1966 as a member of the vinyl division, he got on a committee to create the blow molding division, which the society approved in 1971. Ferguson served on the group's first board of directors, then rejoined the board in 1990. He was an active SPE member for five decades.
For the past 23 years he has been a consultant, running Parisons Blow Molding in Stone Harbor.
He married Joyce Campbell Ferguson and over the course of their 54-year marriage they raised four children in West Virginia and Massachusetts, while spending summers in Stone Harbor. In 1977, he earned an MBA in marketing from West Virginia University. Ferguson worked at GE Plastics from 1988-1997, holding key global blow molding positions.
Ferguson was active in the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association, the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary, and the Wetlands Institute.
Services will be announced at a later date. To honor his memory, the family requests donations to The Wetlands Institute, 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247 or a monetary or blood donation to the American Red Cross Blood Services.