Sentinel & Enterprise Fitchburg, MA
Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
John Keville Jr.
LEOMINSTER -- John J. Keville Jr., 96, formerly of Leominster, died on Sunday, Nov. 4, in Jacksonville, Fla.
This true pioneer spent 60 years of his life in the plastics industry. Jack was born in Leominster on May 29, 1911, son of John J. and Alice (Legere) Keville Sr. He graduated from Leominster High School in 1929, and was captain of the track team. During school vacations in his uncle’s factory, he operated saw machines, cutting teeth in celluloid combs. From this almost prophetic beginning, he became an avid participant in most phases of the expanding industry.
Following his bachelor’s degree from New York’s Columbia University in 1933, where he was captain of the track team, and a brief stint at the New York Herald Tribune, he joined the plastics division of Celanese Corp., then known as Celluloid Corp., in 1938, eventually achieving the position of assistant general sales manager. In 1964, he joined Standard Pyroxoloid Company in Leominster. From 1964 to 1984, he also served the industry in various sales positions, with Brea Chemical Division of Union Oil of California, Ludlow Corp.’s Flexible Plastics Packaging Division and the Polymer Chemical Division of W.R. Grace Co.
Recognizing the growing need for educating the public, he “preached and promoted” greater awareness of the many beneficial uses of plastics in daily living. These efforts were highlighted by his radio talk show titled, “Salute to the Plastics Industry.”
In 1976, he and other members of the Pioneer Valley Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) began formulating his dream of a National Plastics Museum. His dream was fully realized in 1992, with the opening of the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster. He served as vice president of the Museum for several years. Jack is a member emeritus of the SPE and an associate member of the Society of the Plastics Industry. He was a founding chairman of the Rigid Plastics Container Committee of the Packaging Institute, and is also a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. He is a member of the board of Plastics Academy. He was a track official as well as a NCAA college official for more than 30 years.
He is survived by a daughter, Anne Siderius; and a son, John L. Keville; four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. His first wife, Mary (Yesley) Keville; his second wife, Marie (Foley) Keville; and his third wife, Catherine Keville, all predeceased him.
KEVILLE -- A funeral Mass will be held on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in St. Leo’s Church, 128 Main St., Leominster. Burial will follow in St. Leo’s Cemetery, Leominster. Calling hours will be held on Friday evening from 7-9 p.m. in the Silas F. Richardson & Son Funeral Home, 106 West St., Leominster. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to National Plastics Center and Museum, 210 Lancaster St., Leominster.