A January, 1957 visit to Dow Chemical in Freeport! I really like both these images. First, here’s President Houston in his safety goggles (good form, sir!):
And here’s a shot of the Rice gang enjoying a treat in a Dow conference room. Houston is at left with a very young Chem E professor Tom Leland next to him. To the right is a fellow by the name of Lee Estes, who would have constituted the Public Relations department at this time. (This is the only image of him I’ve ever seen, by the way.) And finally, seemingly transported by his delightful coffee and muffin, is Holmes Richter (’26, ’27, ’29) who was both Chairman of the Chemistry Department and Dean of Graduate Studies at this moment.
President Houston isn’t wearing safety goggles. I happen to know those were a very early prototype of Google Glass.
The Assistant to the General Manager of the Texas Division at this time, David L. Rooke, is Class of ’44. Rooke later became General Manager of the Texas Division, and I believe, President of Dow Chemical. Rice Owls and Aggies were well represented in the early engineering and technical leadership of Dow’s Texas Division. (I’m from down there.)
Indeed! “From barn to boardroom … He was named President of Dow Chemical USA in 1978, and became Executive Vice President of the worldwide company and served on the Board of Directors until his retirement in 1988.” (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=41494002). Rice named Mr. Rooke a Distinguished Alumnus in 1984.
The photo does certainly imply that there are other people in the room. If I had to guess, it would certainly be Rooke and probably then General Manager A.P. “Dutch” Beutel, who was one of the heroes of the industrial development of the Freeport/Lake Jackson area. Perhaps Professor Richter, in addition to his delightful coffee and muffin, is filled with pride at seeing the achievements of a fondly remembered student! I can think of at least two reasons for this visit. First, it was probably for recruiting, as Dow and the area were expanding greatly in the mid-to-late 1950s, and also it was to share some of the new techniques being developed in chemical manufacturing. In these days Dow engineers were getting a lot of patents. The old style of this conference room implies to me that this is in the former Plant A administration building, designed about 1940. The new modern administrative complex by MacKie and Kamrath, which has been a local landmark since it was completed, would not be finished until 1958.
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