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Published: Friday, 5/25/2012

Lewis W. Saxby, Jr., 1924-2012: Owens Corning exec was loyal to company

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lewis W. Saxby, Jr., a retired Owens Corning executive who helped oversee such ventures as insulating the trans-Alaska pipeline and installing an airline terminal roof of fiber-glass fabric, died Wednesday of heart failure in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 87.

He was in declining health recently, his wife, Kay, said.

Mr. Saxby of Ottawa Hills retired in the late 1980s as a senior vice president of Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., as it was then known -- his only employer.

"He was very loyal to his company," his wife said.

He was promoted to senior vice president in 1978 and named to the corporate policy committee by William Boeschenstein, then president and chief executive. He formerly was vice president of the mechanical operating division.

"He served a very important role and was a very important operating officer," said Mr. Boeschenstein, a former OC chairman who retired in 1990.

"He was a good engineer, and he was very meticulous and disciplined in his work habits and was one of those people who was not only good at developing proposals of one kind or another but also had a very strong technical sense or knowledge."

Mr. Saxby was a leader in several important special projects, Mr. Boeschenstein said, including the insulation system for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and installation of Teflon-coated fiber-glass fabric roofs over the Haj terminal at the airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia -- a project that took enough fabric to cover more than 80 football fields.

"He was a man of very high integrity, a very steady guy," Mr. Boeschenstein said. "He had a very creative mind and was always looking for new opportunities and activities."

He worked both on the manufacturing side of the firm, as when he oversaw its insulation plant in Santa Clara, Calif., and on the contracting side, when he ran an affiliated business in Detroit that installed insulation at factories, power and chemical plants, schools, and commercial buildings.

He was hired after receiving a master of business administration degree in 1948 from Stanford University. He had a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

He was a former officer of the National Insulation Contractors Association.

He was a former president of Junior Achievement of Northwestern Ohio and was on the national and central region board of directors. In 1981, he received the National Gold Achievement Award for his service to the organization. He also taught public school students about Junior Achievement and business.

The organization "was dear to his heart," his wife said. "So many people go to the voting booth and do not understand how the government works and private enterprise works, and he felt that through Junior Achievement, it was a great way to teach children how to handle their own finances and the broader picture."

He was on the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce board and a long-range planning committee for downtown Toledo. In 1989, then-Mayor Donna Owens named him a trustee of the Toledo-Lucas County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He was born Dec. 17, 1924, in Oak Park, Ill., to Dorothy and Lewis Saxby, but grew up in Pasadena, Calif., where he attended high school. He had been in the Naval ROTC while at Berkeley and was called to active duty in 1945. He served aboard the USS Henderson, a destroyer, in Hawaii.

He was a world explorer, filling up multiple passports as he visited nations in Africa and Asia, Papua New Guinea, even Antarctica. He played golf and had been on the Inverness Club board of governors.

And he did the planning when his far-flung extended family got together.

"They all credit Uncle Lew with being the one who kept all the cousins and kids as good friends," his wife said. "Lew was the patriarch. He has done a wonderful job with that."

He married the former Kathryn Hutchinson on Sept. 7, 1947. She died Aug. 3, 1990.

Surviving are his wife, the former Kay Bellingham Taylor, whom he married Jan. 23, 1993; son, Steven Saxby; daughters, Anne Saxby and Jane Primrose; stepdaughter, Jane Elfers; brother, Charles Willey; seven grandsons; seven great-grandchildren, and a step-granddaughter.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Christ Presbyterian Church, where he'd been clerk of session. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church; the Toledo Museum of Art; the Toledo Symphony; Cherry Street Mission, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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