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Published: Saturday, 8/11/2001

Research chemist enlisted for war effort

Frank C. Albert, Jr., a research chemist for the rubber, automotive, and related industries, died yesterday in Flower Hospital. He was 85.

He died from complications of a condition that impairs the bone marrow's production of red blood cells. The last 21/2 years, he received two units of blood every third week, his son, Bernard, said.

Mr. Albert of South Toledo was a polymer chemist and senior engineer for the Textile Leather division of General Tire & Rubber Co. for 28 years, retiring in 1980.

He was hailed as an expert in the field and testified before Congressional subcommittees on the flammability of vinyl in auto crashes, his son said. He did work on head liners and door panels and conducted early research into air bags.

“He was well known by the Big Three [automakers] in Detroit,” his son said.

Mr. Albert grew up in North Toledo and was a graduate of St. John's High School when it was located there. He was a graduate of the University of Toledo, where one of his fields was pharmacy. “If it had not been for the Depression, he would have been a [medical] doctor,” his son said.

Instead, he became a teacher to make a living. He taught at Scott High School and at St. Joseph High School, Fremont, where his subjects were every type of mathematics and science, his son said.

Before the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Albert was recruited by B.F. Goodrich Co. to work on the development of synthetic rubber - a pressing need, with Japanese occupation forces blocking South Pacific sources of raw rubber.

He later became a chemist at Willys-Overland Motors, Inc., for its wartime ammunition production. After the war, he worked in research and development as a metallurgical chemist for Willys-Overland.

His father owned a pharmaceutical wholesale business, and that sparked his interest in science.

“He was a man who was intellectually challenged by anything scientific,” his son said. “He loved the pursuit of knowledge.”

Family members learned only years later that he had written articles for scientific publications.

“He was one of the most humble, soft-spoken people I have ever known,” his son said. Mr. Albert was a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Society of Automotive Engineers. He was a longtime member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

He and his wife, Wilma, married Aug. 17, 1940, and the couple traveled extensively after retirement. Mrs. Albert died July 28, 1993.

Surviving are his son, Bernard; daughters, Barbara Martens and Sandra Albert; six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Coyle Mortuary after 2 p.m. Monday, with a Scripture service at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Joan of Arc Church, where he was a member.

The family requests tributes to St. John's Jesuit High School or to a charity of the donor's choice.

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