In Memory: Blow molding pioneer Lew Ferguson dies at 78

Nov. 30, 2020
Ferguson, whose career spanned five decades, had a long and active membership in the Society of Plastics Engineers.

A blow molding pioneer recognized as a Fellow and Honored Member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has died.

Lewis “Lew” Ellis Ferguson III, 78, of Stone Harbor, N.J., died Nov. 26, 2020, Thanksgiving Day, due to complications from myelodysplastic syndrome.

An active member of SPE since 1966, Ferguson had chaired the Blow Molding Division’s parts competition since its inception. He also was a past chairman of the division. In September 2019, at the Annual Blow Molding Conference (ABC), he received the division’s Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest honor.

He was a graduate of Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, and West Virginia University, where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing.

During professional stops at Escambia Chemical, Tenneco Chemicals, Borg-Warner Chemicals’ Marbon Chemical division and General Electric, Ferguson had a hand in or witnessed the development of reheat stretch blow molding, as well as refinements to materials including PVC and ABS.

“I was proud to contribute to global development of the 20-liter polycarbonate water bottle that provided clean drinking water to many areas of the world where waterborne illnesses were a major contributor to poor health conditions,” he told The Journal of Blow Molding contributor Scott Steele for a profile in December 2018.

After retiring, Ferguson worked for 20 years at the consulting firm he established, Parisons Blow Molding, assisted clients that included blow molding part manufacturers, equipment and material suppliers, designers, and end users. In addition, he conducted blow molding training with Paulson Plastics Academy and the Pennsylvania College of Technology, and every year he presented “Keys to Blow Molding Engineering Thermoplastics for New Applications” at ABC. He also was an instructor of “Blow Molding Engineering Thermoplastics” at SPE’s Large Part Blow Molding Workshops.

According to a profile available from Paulson Plastics Academy, Chester, Conn., Ferguson produced more than 35 published papers and presentations related to blow molding, impact modifiers, plastic alloys and engineering thermoplastics processing and design. 

Born to Lewis Ellis Ferguson II and Anna White Ferguson in 1941, he married Joyce Campbell Ferguson. They were married 54 years and raised four children in West Virginia and Massachusetts, while spending summers in Stone Harbor. He enjoyed fishing, bike riding and photographing sunsets. He was on the committee of the Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary and volunteered at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. He is survived by his wife and their children, Glen, Kara, Scott and Lisa; son-in-law, John Alkire; daughters-in-law, Jessica Ferguson and Christina Davilas; and grandchildren, Chad, Luke, Alex, Lyla, Niko and Zoe; extended family and many friends and colleagues. Services will be announced at a later date. Donations may be made to The Wetlands Institute, 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor, N.J. 08247. People also can donate money or blood to the American Red Cross Blood Services, or arrange to plant trees in his memory at the’s Sympathy Store.  

Memories and condolences may be left Radzieta Funeral Home in Cape May Court House, N.J., which is handling arrangements.

By Karen Hanna, associate editor

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About the Author

Karen Hanna | Senior Staff Reporter

Senior Staff Reporter Karen Hanna covers injection molding, molds and tooling, processors, workforce and other topics, and writes features including In Other Words and Problem Solved for Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Plastics Recycling and The Journal of Blow Molding. She has more than 15 years of experience in daily and magazine journalism.