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Kenneth Neil Edwards

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Kenneth Neil Edwards Obituary
Kenneth Neil Edwards
(Dunn-Edwards Paint Corporation)

June 8, 1932- February 20, 2013.

Kenneth Neil Edwards, retired CEO, Dunn-Edwards Paint Corporation and one of the country's leading polymer chemists, passed away peacefully in his Glendale, California home on February 20, 2013. He was 80.

Born June 8th, 1932 in Hollywood, California, Ken was the eldest son of the late Arthur Carl Edwards and Ann Vera Gomez. He is survived by his brothers Edward D. and James R. Edwards and his sons and their families Neil and Isabel Edwards of La Verne, CA, Peter and Camille Edwards of Zurich, Switzerland, John and Lisa Edwards of Monrovia, CA and nine grandchildren; Thomas, Alec, Lillian, Gordon, Marina, Jonathan, Eva, Jason and Mila.

Kenneth attended Hollywood High School, where he graduated in 1950. He received his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Occidental College in 1954 and his Master of Science in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering in 1955 from the University of Michigan. He attended UCLA's Graduate School of Business, Executive Program in 1964.

In the early stages of Ken's career, he was employed as a Principal Chemist in the Coatings division of Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio (1955-1958). In 1958, Ken joined the family owned Dunn-Edwards Paint Corporation in Los Angeles, California as Director of New Products Research & Development until 1971. He later went on to serve as Corporate Secretary, Board Member, and CEO (2001-2011). He taught as a Senior Lecturer- Organic Coatings and Pigments, in the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Southern California (1976-1980). From 1971-2000, Ken also pursued his passion for coatings and plastics technology as an independent consultant and researcher, publishing a wide variety of important industry books and papers. In this period, he was awarded numerous technology and process patents and received a range of related citations and awards, including the ACS Industrial Innovation Award (2003), the Don Quixote Award for Technology (1998), the ACS/PMSE Distinguished Service Award (1996), among many others. His achievements were widely recognized in various publications including Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and Who's Who in the World.

Throughout his professional career, Ken was also particularly active in his many roles with the American Chemical Society (ACS), holding numerous key positions in a period spanning five decades. These included: Chairman, ACS Southern California Section (1999); Chairman, Division of Polymeric Materials, Science & Engineering (1970); Member Executive Committee (1962-1995); Founding Member, Division of Chemical Health & Safety (1977-2013); Founder and Charter Representative (1970-1995) and Secretary General (1976-1977), Macromolecular Secretariat among many others.

Ken was proud of his long association with the professional chemical fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma, where he gave generously of his time, serving as Grand Master Alchemist (National President) (1976-1978), Grand Professional Alchemist (1970-1976), Pacific District Councilor (1967-1970) and Chairman, Los Angeles Chapter (1962).

He was a devoted supporter of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he served as a Member, Cal Poly Centennial Campaign Steering Committee; Lifetime Member, Cal Poly President's Cabinet; Chair, Western Coatings, Industrial Advisory Council; Founding Member, Cal Poly Foundation. In July 2007 Cal Poly recognized Ken's significant contribution to the University by naming its new technology center "The Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center".

Charismatic and intellectually curious, Ken had an unusually wide range of sometimes esoteric interests. His lifetime passion for cooking led to the installation of a restaurant quality kitchen and cooking library in his home and the opening of a restaurant in Sandpoint, Idaho to test his recipes. His love of fishing led to an expertise in tying flies for fly fishing and later, annual expeditions to West Vancouver, Canada and Alaska in pursuit of salmon and halibut. Love of sailing led to the acquisition of his prized 32 foot Down Easter and a proficiency in celestial navigation by handheld sextant. He was an instrument rated pilot in his Cessna 182 and hunted pheasant with his beloved, superbly trained Labrador "Nige" (named after the chemical colorant "Nigrosin", which he used in experimental lacquers). He achieved the extraordinary level of "6th degree" Black belt in Judo through a combination of competition and study and financed the opening of several martial arts studios. He painstakingly constructed detailed ship and aircraft models, played a passable guitar, loved Spanish Segovia style playing and New Orleans Jazz, collected wildlife carvings in jade and would get lost for hours in his basement laboratory. The list goes on and on, but the pattern was consistent in that he pursued to an uncommon degree those things which held his interest.

Ken was generous and inclusive and the holiday table was always open to friends as well as family. He was supportive of his family and took great delight in the progress of his nine grandchildren. His greatest personal commitment and resolve, however, was the success and product excellence of the Dunn-Edwards Paint Corporation, and his determination that its best course was to remain a family enterprise through the generations. To this end he dedicated the best of himself and his considerable talents.

In celebration of Ken's extraordinary life, a reception will be held at 12:00 on Friday, March 8, 2013 at the home of Neil and Isabel Edwards, 5613 Skyline Circle, La Verne California.

In lieu of flowers, the Edwards family suggests that donations be made to support the Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology Center (WCTC) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The WCTC will be housed in the new Center for Science and Mathematics, which is under construction on campus and expected to be completed in May 2013 as a LEED Gold Certified building. The WCTC will be home to the only polymers and coatings program at an American university west of the Mississippi River.

Checks should be made out to "Cal Poly Foundation" with a memo line indicating "Ken Edwards Memorial Fund." Please mail checks to: Raymond H. Fernando, PhD, Arthur C. Edwards Endowed Chair Director, Polymers and Coatings Program, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry California Polytechnic State University, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Mar. 3, 2013
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