John Morrison
1925 - 2019
{ "" }
Share John's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
(News story) John Morrison, an engineer who led the way in making opened cans safe for hands - and tongues - died Sunday at Ohio Living Swan Creek. He was 93.

He had been in declining health, his son Bob Morrison. He and his late wife, Nancy, moved to Swan Creek from their longtime Ottawa Hills home about seven years ago.

He retired in the late 1990s as president and chief executive of Automated Container Corp., which he started in 1981 in Toledo after Owens-Illinois Inc., his employer since 1965, shed the division in which he led product development.

His team at O-I found that it wouldn't make money sense for glass bottle maker O-I to offer composite - that is, paper - cans to compete against aluminum cans, then growing in popularity. Products suited to paper cans included tennis balls and snack foods. Mr. Morrison helped design an aluminum end to those cans, Saferim, that did not expose a sharp edge when the user pulled the top off and reached in.

Mr. Morrison, in a 1991 journal article, recalled an unintended consequence from the early 1970s of single-serving pudding - children cut their tongues as they licked the pudding from the metal top. He helped design O-I's solution called Doublesafe, making rim and top sharp-edge free.

"He was a company man, and he certainly was a team player throughout," said his son Bob, now president and CEO of Automated Container. "He was really respected in the industry for not only his technical expertise, [but] his ability to work with people."

Left without that company, O-I, Mr. Morrison worked out a deal that allowed him to form his own business. He contracted with a company that bought the presses to make easy-open ends. Since, Automated Container Corp. has become the sales and marketing arm for Crown Cork and Seal Co.'s range of easy-open can ends.

Mr. Morrison set up agencies in more than 50 countries to sell Automated Container's products to can makers.

"He was always very modest about what he had done," son Ken said. "He would say he recognized the opportunity and seized it.

"He had a kind of remarkable equanimity," son Ken said. "Things didn't fluster him. He would take just about whatever came at him and would react calmly and rationally. He also was extremely principled."

Mr. Morrison earlier worked at 3M in St. Paul and Sefton Fibre Can in the St. Louis area.

He was born July 31, 1925, in Dayton, to Dorothy and Robert Morrison. He graduated at age 16 from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh and went to Yale College. After stateside Navy service near the end of World War II, he received a bachelor's degree in engineering from Yale. He received a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1948 from the University of Michigan.

"He had an incredibly analytical mind," son Bob said. "It was a natural fit for him to pursue the sciences and engineering."

He made annual treks all his life to Neah-ta-wanta, a resort near Traverse City, Mich, missing only a summer when he was in the Navy.

"He could rely on Neah-ta-wanta, that all the family would reconnect," son Bob said. "We're not necessarily going to be in Toledo, but we're going to be there."

He was former senior warden of St. Michael's in the Hills Episcopal Church. He'd been a memory of Toledo Rotary Club.

He and his wife, Nancy Morrison married in October, 1953. Mrs. Morrison, who became known for her advocacy on behalf of people with learning disabilities, died July 14, 2015.

Surviving are his sons Ken, Pete, and Bob Morrison; daughter, Margie Morrison; brother, Elliot Morrison, and eight grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at St. Michael's in the Hills Church, Ottawa Hills and at 11 a.m. July 28 at the West Bay Pavilion in Neah-ta-wanta on the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City.

The family suggests tributes to St. Michael's in the Hills; the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, or the Alzheimer's Association.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Mar. 31, 2019.
Memorial service
02:00 PM
Memorial service
11:00 AM
West Bay Pavilion in Neah-ta-wanta
Please consider a donation, as requested by the family.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
2 entries
April 3, 2019
Faithful Blessings Bouquet - VASE INCLUDED
Send Flowers and Gifts
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
a loved one
April 2, 2019
We pray Peace, Comfort, and Wisdom to John's families. I had honor of working with John at O-I making ring-pull closures in Willis Day Ind. park (mid-1970s). I respected John's intellect and creative background. God Bless. Ed Ross (retired).
Edward Ross
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences