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1918 - 2018
CREIGHTON, Albert M. Jr. Devcon Founder and Conservationist Albert Morton Creighton Jr., 100, died peacefully at home in Manchester-by-the-Sea on Monday. Al enjoyed a remarkable life, governed by tradition, integrity, love of family, and a passion for the natural world. Born in Lynn, in 1918, the fourth child of Albert M. Creighton and Margaret Abbott Creighton, Al grew up in Boston. He loved visits to a family farm in Middleton and to the Swampscott coast where he developed his appreciation for the outdoors. He often told stories of tromping in the woods with a dog or selling lobsters to President Coolidge, who occasionally summered next door. Al graduated from St. Paul's School in 1937 and Harvard College in 1941. Following college, Al went to work in Boston for the War Production Board which was making an inventory of all factories that might help in the war effort. He was sent to open similar offices in Portland and Montpelier. When World War II was declared he returned to Boston, volunteered for service with the Army's Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and was sent to Yunnan Province, China. Al rarely talked about his work with the OSS, but the experience had a profound effect on him and his future career. While in China, he watched as a man repairing a gas tank was killed by an explosion. Al reasoned that there must be a better way to repair equipment cheaply and safely. When he returned to the US, he began experimenting – eventually developing some of the earliest metal-filled, two-part epoxy products. In the late 1950s, Al founded Devcon Corporation of Danvers. The company's signature product, "Plastic Steel", was revolutionary for its low cost and ease of use for home and industrial repairs. Over 100 products followed, including "5-Minute Epoxy" in a patented double syringe. The company grew, adding facilities around the world, but it always maintained its roots in Danvers. Al loved to travel to factories, especially small ones, where he could talk to the owners, understand their challenges and help them solve repair problems. His office is full of mementoes from many of those visits – each with its own special story. In 1979, Devcon was purchased by Illinois Tool Works of Chicago and the line of industrial polymer products continues to be used world-wide. But Al Creighton's passion was preserving open space and his leadership in this area was influential and ahead of its time. Al encouraged conservation organizations to be aggressive in protecting land; to reach out, inform, and encourage landowners; and to establish working partnerships with land trusts and state agencies. In 1963 he, with Frances Burnett and George Loring, founded the Manchester Conservation Trust (MECT) to protect "The Wilderness," a vast area of 17th century woodlots in Manchester and Essex, from suburban development. Now in its 55th year, MECT protects approximately 1,700 acres of land in Manchester and Essex, moving ever closer to Al's personal goal of saving over 3,000 acres of land. Throughout the state and New England, Al contributed to the protection of special places. He became one of the first board members of the Essex County Greenbelt Association, then an all-volunteer organization meeting in the Winthrop family barn. He served on the Trustees of Reservation's board of directors from 1977 to 1998, serving as board president from 1995 to 1998. He was a long-time board member of Maine Coast Heritage Trust and in 1986 he was instrumental in helping the island community of Vinalhaven, Maine start their local land trust. He received many awards for his work including the Trustees' Charles Elliot award, the 2015 Essex Heritage Hero Award, and in 2011 Greenbelt established the Al Creighton Conservation Award in his honor to recognize area leaders in natural resource protection. Al's generous spirit also extended to his work on a variety of other boards including the Peabody-Essex Museum of Salem, the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn, and the Boston Museum of Science. In Manchester, he served on the Finance Committee, the 1950s School Building and Planning Committee, and the Council of Emmanuel Church. He was a member of the Essex County Club, The Harvard Travelers Club, The Singing Beach Club, and the Manchester Yacht Club. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Hilary Holcomb Creighton; four children: Sarah Lispenard Creighton and husband Phil Lawrence of Northampton, MA, William Powers Creighton of Freeport, Maine, Albert M. Creighton III (Mory) and wife Sarah Hammond Creighton of Manchester, and Peter Holcomb Creighton and wife Catherine Finnigan Creighton, also of Manchester; and seven grandchildren: Jessica and Emma Creighton, Eleanor Lawrence, Andrew and Samuel Creighton, and Charles and Harrison Creighton. He was predeceased by his daughter Katherine. A Celebration of Al Creighton's life will be held on Friday, September 28 at 11:00 AM at St. John's Church in Beverly Farms, MA. Memorial contributions may be sent to Manchester Essex Conservation Trust (http://www.mect.org) P.O. Box 1486, Manchester, MA 01944. Arrangements by the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, BEVERLY, MA 01915. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com
Published in The Boston Globe on Sept. 23, 2018
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