Delford A. McGraw, 87, a research physicist at Owens-Illinois Inc. for 35 years who from childhood had an interest in how things work, even building radios from scratch, died Wednesday in Flower Hospital.
He had pneumonia. His health had been declining for several years, his son Patrick said. Mr. McGraw moved to Crestview Club Apartments on the campus of Flower as his macular degeneration grew severe.
He retired from O-I in 1980 as chief engineer of corporate engineering and technical services. He worked at the Westwood Avenue research facility and enjoyed group projects that led to advances in, for instance, producing glass that withstands rapid cooling or heating.
He received several patents.
"He felt he had the good luck to have a career in the heyday of science in American industry and at Owens-Illinois in particular," his son said.
Mr. McGraw grew up in West Virginia.
"He was a tinkerer from the time he was able to tinker," his son said. "He was so handy and so able to figure out anything mechanical or intricate."
Mr. McGraw received a bachelor of science degree from what was then Concord College in Athens, W.Va. He received a master's degree from West Virginia University and worked toward a doctorate at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
During World War II, he tested gunpowder and munitions for the Hercules Powder Co. "He always very much admired those of his generation, his contemporaries, who fought," his son said.
Mr. McGraw was active in churches. But he became disenchanted with what he saw as religious interference in science education.
"He was not just a scientist. He was just interested in everything - literature. He probably read everything that Mark Twain ever wrote," his son said.
"He was a very intelligent man, but he had absolutely no perception that he was any better or any more worthy than anyone else," his son said. "That was at the core of his character: his belief in the dignity of everybody."
Mr. McGraw and his wife, Elizabeth, married on March 13, 1941. She died March 20, 1997.
Surviving are his sons, Patrick and Donald; sister, Fern Armentrout; five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
There will be no visitation. Mr. McGraw was cremated. Memorial services will be scheduled next year, son Patrick said.
The family suggests tributes to Concord University, Athens, W.Va., or the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Cleveland.