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Ernest McClellan

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 5:59 p.m. CDT

DELAFIELD, Wis. — Mr. Ernest “Ernie” McClellan passed away April 5, 2013, in his Delafield, Wis., home at the age of 87. He was born May 17, 1925, in Mazon, Ill., the eldest of five children of Fred and Inez (Wills) McClellan.

Ernie is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lois (McDermott), and their children, Barbara Burkhart, Andrew (Brenda) McClellan, Lisa (Tim) Tomann, and daughter-in-law Deborah McClellan. He was “Big Ern” to his grandchildren, Bryan McClellan, Gabriel McClellan, Sarah (Keith) Mikkelson, Ryan Nicholas (Maria) Burkhart, Douglas McClellan and Jillian McClellan; his great-grandchildren Zachary, Ella and Aiden; and his extended family, Reilly, Emily and Yoshira.

Also surviving is his brother, Harold (Leona) of Lucas, Ohio, and sister, Mary Lou (Wes) Larsen of Seneca, Ill., along with numerous other relatives and friends.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his infant twin daughters, Laura and Linda; a son, Bruce; a daughter-in-law, Nancy; his sister, Norma (McClellan) Kelly; and a brother, Robert McClellan.

His early years were spent in the Mazon, Morris and Seneca, Ill., areas. He graduated from Seneca High School in 1943, having already enlisted in the Navy Air Corp V5 pilot training program. He attended Newberry College, in South Carolina, while serving in the Navy. After the end of WWII he was honorably discharged and continued his education, obtaining his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University in 1949, and his M.S. in Chemistry at the University of Akron in 1953.  

He worked for the B.F. Goodrich Company in Akron, Ohio, and later accepted a position at the J.G. Milligan Company, which brought him to Milwaukee. In 1968, he and the late Robert Bach Sr. founded Plast-O-Meric, Inc., which became the largest manufacturer of plastisol compounds in the U.S. prior to its sale in 1998. It grew to four locations in the United States and became a worldwide supplier of its PVC compounds.      

He was active in many industry associations. He was a member of the Society of Plastic Industries, Society of Plastics Engineers and Association of Rotational Molders, as well as a former member of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was past chairman and honorary lifetime member of the Vinyl Formulators Division of the Society of Plastics Industries.

Ernie received the Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Association of Rotational Molders. He was a guest lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and the University of Akron, as well as various industry meetings. He was the editor and contributing author of a textbook for scientists interested in formulating vinyl plastisols. He continued his involvement in the industry as a vice president of Polymer Services and Innovations, a consulting firm, from 1998 until his death.

He fulfilled his dream of flying by obtaining his private pilot’s license in 1974 at Crites Field in Waukesha, Wis. He purchased his first airplane, a Cessna 172, and later a Citabria, an aerobatic plane. He loved to take his grandkids up to practice some “maneuvers.” He qualified as a glider pilot in 1983, and as a finale to his flying experience, bought a Kolb Utralight. He was a member and past president of the Waukesha Aviation Club.

A bright spot in his life was his active participation in Clan MacLellan in America, Inc. He became interested in genealogy after a trip to Scotland led him to the local library, where he discovered information on the history of the MacLellans and the Scottish castle. With much dedication, he traced his family roots back to the 1700s.

He and Lois became members and traveled across the country attending the various clan games. He was a member of Clan MacLellan in America and its’ president from 1994 to 1998.

Ernie was a man of many interests and never lost his zest for life. He and Lois traveled to many parts of the world, and often included their grandkids or their siblings and close friends on trips to Europe and cruises to various destinations. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to experience exceeding the speed of sound, they embarked on one of the final flights of the Concord.

Reading was a particular favorite past-time, especially history. A goal was to read about every president and he and Lois traveled to many of the presidential libraries.  Late in life, his reading interests turned to the branches of physics and quantum mechanics.

He loved gardening and would obtain seeds from various parts of the world to grow in his home greenhouse, his favorite plant being cacti. Although always challenging, Roma Beans would be grown in the vegetable garden.

Baking became another fascination. Being the chemist he was, he set out to perfect the ultimate pizza crust, even though he had never eaten pizza in his first 70 years. He will forever be remembered for his outstanding pie crust.          

A private memorial service was held April 18.

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