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John V. Saenger

John V. Saenger

AGE: 84 • Mendham

John V. Saenger, 84, of Mendham, New Jersey, "the father of modernized medicine," and "quality assurance icon," passed into the loving arms of His Savior, Jesus Christ, on January 22, 2014 at St. Clare's Hospital in Dover, New Jersey, following a cardiac arrest. Known for his innovative, pioneering spirit and excellent managerial skills, Jack Saenger revolutionized the delivery of medicine in the late 1950s through the creation and development of tablet formulation, converting Benadryl as the first liquid medicine into tablet form. He subsequently established the first system-wide quality control program, founded upon statistical analysis, within the pharmaceutical industry at Warner-Chilcott Laboratories and then at Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Born in Brooklyn, New York, May 22, 1929, he moved with his family to Hoboken during his high school years where he graduated and then attended Seton Hall University, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the pre-med program in 1951. His academic track shifted to finish his studies at the College of Pharmacy at Rutgers, the State University, 1954, with a B.S.in Pharmacy, Cum Laude. In recognition for his academic achievements, as well as "character, personality and leadership," Mr. Saenger was inducted into the Alpha Eta Chapter of Rho Chi, the only Pharmaceutical Honor Society in the U.S. With boundless energy, drive and commitment, Mr. Saenger brought his talents, intelligence, training and high standards to innovate and revolutionize the delivery of medicine during the post-World War II era. As a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Saenger excelled at team-building and goal-setting to meet high levels of production output. His strong work ethic, tempered by his Irish sense of humor, motivated fellow employees in their "Pursuit of Excellence." As a humanitarian and visionary, Mr. Saenger foresaw the need, potential, and possibility of delivering medicine more efficiently and faster, in order to provide, more immediately, medical remedies to people for their health issues. Up until then, pharmacists were compounding ingredients by hand to make tablets and fill prescriptions, which he did as a pharmacist in Hoboken, NJ, right after he graduated from Rutgers in 1954. After a short period of time working in retail, and a brief stint with hospital pharmacy work, Mr. Saenger decided that he would apply his pharmaceutical training in another arena. In 1956, he landed the job as a chemist at Warner-Chilcott Laboratories in Morris Plains, New Jersey. It is there where history would be made and his life-long career in the pharmaceutical industry would begin. As a chemist, he tested raw materials coming into the Lab. Just two years later, he became the Senior Analyst on the Corporate Quality Control Staff, serving all divisions of the company in 1958, where he oversaw the testing of formulations for manufacturing various medicines into tablet form. According to colleagues, "he was the one who ensured that people, at every stage of the manufacturing process, would be accountable for the accuracy and quality of the tablet production." With his sense and drive for innovation, Mr. Saenger inspired, guided and oversaw the development of tablet manufacturing formulations and processes; the delivery of medicine, in the form of a tablet, which is manufactured in vast quantities, with accuracy and consistency at all times. Subsequently, under Jack Saenger's pioneering innovation and supervision, the team developed "a total quality system," the first of its kind at Warner-Chilcott Labs, as well as within the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, he spearheaded the implementation of "a statistical quality control program," in order to more accurately verify the quality of produced tablets. Within two years, in 1960, Mr. Saenger was named Manager of Quality Control for Chilcott Labs where he oversaw the quality of the raw material brought into the lab, right on through actual tablet production, and then on to the finalized packaged goods. Within the decade, W-C would embark upon "an adventure in excellence" program referred to as the "Key to Quality" program, in which Mr. Saenger played a vital role in the training of W-C personnel to meet the goals, motivating them to achieve excellence. To his credit, he introduced best manufacturing practices so that there were "no recalls" in manufacturing, while he served as Manager of Quality Control for eight years at Chilcott Labs. By 1968, he was viewed as "someone with broad experience in modern quality control techniques" who would "help maintain high quality standards for varied product lines." Subsequently, Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company hired him as their Corporate Quality Control Director, implementing their own "Quality Assurance" program. Upper management so regarded his expertise in quality assurance that he traveled the world to address many international conferences, often as the keynote speaker. Mr. Saenger's abilities to impart and effectively train personnel to implement the Quality Assurance program became a hallmark and key element to the branding of the Warner-Lambert name, in the manufacturing and production of pharmaceuticals and other products. His success would identify him as "the icon for quality assurance" within the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Saenger's growing expertise in the delivery of medicine promoted him to assume even greater responsibilities within the industry to be elevated to higher executive positions: Vice President, Operations, Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, Puerto Rico (1972-1976); to Vice President, Manufacturing, Warner-Chilcott Laboratories (1976-1978); to Vice President, Engineering, Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Division (1978-1980); to Vice-President, Manufacturing and Engineering, Parke-Davis Division, Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company (1980-1986); to President, Saenger Associates, Inc., Pharmaceutical Consulting Firm, (1986-2001). For over 45 years, Mr. Saenger pursued his passion of helping humanity receive the medications which it needs to be well. He became iconic for imparting his innovative management program,"The Pursuit of Excellence--- Q.S.D.P.", to empower employees to strive for top performance so that Quality, Safety, Delivery and Performance were enhanced significantly. Throughout his illustrious and historic career, Mr. Saenger thrived on the challenge to create, build, brand and grow the pharmaceutical industry, so that others would receive the medications they need. Raised to be service-oriented, Jack served seven years in the Army Reserves during the Korean Conflict, receiving an honorable discharge from the medic division as a Master Sergeant. He also became engaged in community outreach later on in life, volunteering his time at St. Clare's in Denville, and supporting the efforts of Community Hope. He and his wife Ruth served as Eucharistic ministers for nearly 30 years at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Mendham. The joy received through reception of the Eucharist had become a life-long source of strength for Mr. Saenger, giving him the interior sustenance to serve humanity, over time, in a wide variety of roles. He also cherished his long-time affiliation with the Sisters of Christian Charity at Assumption College in Mendham, NJ. Seen as a Renaissance Man, as well as "a Man for All Seasons", Mr. Saenger enjoyed not only his passion to "pursue excellence" within his field of science, but also took time to enjoy the arts—theatre, dance and music---as well as travel and sports. The son of a coronetist in the sweet dance bands of the 20s and 30s, John V. Saenger, Sr., Mr. Saenger attended the concerts of his favorite crooners, like Tony Bennett and other celebrated artists. As a member of the NJ Jazz Society, he also enjoyed the sounds of Sinatra, Big Band, American Pops, and Classical. In addition, Jack traveled the country and world, extensively, with both his family and colleagues. During the summer months, he was an avid golfer, who also loved tennis and watching baseball, as he had been a pitcher in the baseball leagues of Hoboken. A devoted father to his two daughters and a good husband to his wife of 55 years of marriage, Jack made sure he was always home for dinner after his full day, interacting with his family; but, then of course, he followed up on the necessary reading to keep up with compliance requirements and new projects, while listening to the soothing sounds of Tony Bennett and Montovani. As hard as Mr. Saenger worked, he also played hard. A Bavarian-Irishman, Jack stole the show at parties. With the glint in his Irish blue-eyes, good humor, and a broad-winning smile, Jack did "steal your heart away." Both he and his late wife Ruth became known for their wonderful parties hosted for his corporate colleagues, relatives or friends. The Saenger home, in the early years, whether it was in Rockaway or their newly-built, 1960s colonial in Florham Park, was always filled with good times, good food and laughter. Later on, their Mendham homes on Horizon Drive, Harmony Lane and in the Commons similarly enjoyed surprise parties and holiday festivities. And perhaps, that is exactly what so many who have known and loved this "man for all seasons" will most remember-- his charming wit, generous spirit, dedication to service and love for so many people. God has called him "home," but the memories and legacies Jack created will live on forever, within the many hearts and minds which he touched, encouraged and inspired.

He is predeceased by his parents, John and Nora Saenger, and his wife W. Ruth Saenger. His is survived by his two daughters: Ruthann Saenger of Mendham, NJ and Laraine Saenger of Boonton, NJ; one sister, Peg Saenger of Morristown, NJ; a niece, Carol Szymanski of Brick, NJ; a nephew John Stoltenborg of Wilmington, DE; as well as many grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins through marriage.

Friends and family are invited to a Mass of Resurrection to be held on January 27 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mendham. Interment will follow at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover. Visitations will be held on Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 from 2-5 p.m. at the Bailey Funeral Home, 8 Hilltop Road, Mendham, NJ. Donations in memory of Mr. Saenger may be made to "The John V. Saenger RU Pharmacological Endowed Scholarship," by sending a check made out to the Rutgers Foundation, 120 Albany St., Suite 201, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

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Published in Daily Record on Jan. 25, 2014
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