Longtime plastics executive William Patient, a former CEO of Geon Corp. and PolyOne Corp., died on Feb. 25 at age 85.
Patient was a native of St. Louis who graduated from Washington University there. He began his career with Standard Oil before working 27 years for Borg-Warner Chemicals.
In 1989, Patient joined BFGoodrich as president of its Geon vinyl division. Geon was spun off as a separate public company in 1993, with Patient becoming the firm's first chairman and CEO.
Patient retired from Avon Lake, Ohio-based Geon in 1999, one year before the firm merged with M.A. Hanna Co. to form PolyOne Corp., one of North America's largest compounders and resin distributors. He briefly returned to PolyOne as nonexecutive chairman, then as interim CEO before retiring again in 2006.
In retirement, Patient lived in Tuscon, Ariz. A local obituary described his support of higher education and his interests in travel and golf.
Former Geon executives Thomas Waltermire and D'Lane Wisner shared fond memories of Patient.
"What stood out with Bill were his values," Waltermire said in a message to Plastics News. "He was scrupulously honest, deeply caring about the safety and careers of his people."
Waltermire, who followed Patient as CEO at Geon and later served as PolyOne's CEO, added that Patient "instinctively set the highest standards, expecting and demanding nothing but the best from us."
"He had such a big heart. Everyone who spent more than a few minutes with him carries the gift of that big heart and his concern for the welfare of others."
Wisner, formerly Geon's environmental solutions manager, said Patient "was the right leader at the right time" when Geon moved away from BFGoodrich and formed PolyOne. Patient was an active board member of the Vinyl Institute and "ardent defender" of vinyl during a period when chlorine and PVC were under attack by Greenpeace and others, Wisner added.
Wisner recalled that Patient once led a busload of Geon employees to Windsor, Ontario, and spoke as a keynoter during an annual meeting of the International U.S./Canada Joint Commission.
"During his speech, several activists demonstrated dressed in Comorant bird outfits and tried to disrupt Bill's talk," Wisner said. "They were not successful."
Patient is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 63 years, and other family, including four daughters, two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Donations in Patient's name can be made to the Bill and Bonnie Patient Scholarship fund in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63130, or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at stjude.org.