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Service to Country and Company

by Patricia Quigley

Arthur Dodge Jr. knows about survival.

Survival in a primal sense: encountering the enemy on the battlefield and being able to talk about it years later.

Survival in a metaphorical sense: facing industry giants and watching his company grow.

And survival in the sweetest sense: seeing the fifth generation of family run the firm that always has been part of his life.

Dodge, 80, chairman of Dodge-Regupol, a cork, cork/rubber and recycled rubber materials producer based in Lancaster, Pa., has had two careers. From 1942 to 1962, he served in the United States Army. Before and after that stint, he worked for the family business his great-grandfather founded in Bennington, Vt., which later merged with a German partner.

Dodge was a student at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., when Pearl Harbor was bombed. “I was one of those brash young men who finished that year’s term and immediately volunteered,” he said. When he reported for duty it unexpectedly was to a fraternity brother who wanted to assign him as a medic. Dodge, who believed everything had come easy to him and wanted to pay his dues, requested an infantry position.

His tours of duty included time in North Africa and Italy from 1943 to 1945 and Germany from 1951 to 1952. Those tours provided interesting experiences, among them being with the first infantry division — the 88th — to reach Rome during World War II. “We were the first military unit to enter Rome from the south in the last 2000 years,” recalled Dodge, who witnessed the raising of American, British and French flags as the Germans retreated.

Shortly thereafter, a contessa he met outside of Rome presented Dodge, whose brother was a Trappist monk, with a letter of introduction to her uncle, a cardinal. On visiting the Vatican, a member of the Swiss Guard ushered him to the cardinal. “The next thing I knew, I was facing the Pope,” said Dodge, who enjoyed a semi-private audience with the Pope. The Pontiff presented Dodge with a blessing for his brother, whom Dodge could only contact once a year. Dodge shipped it to his brother in a tube that had held mortar shells, claiming an extra communication with his sibling. “It let him know he was not forgotten,” Dodge said.

Dodge’s Army service helped shape him for business, teaching him to make decisions and take responsibility. Through the years, he has seen his firm, which he called “the mouse that roared,” grow while others floundered.

The military, from which Dodge retired as a captain, also provided him with ties to ASTM. At a post-war Reserve Officers Association function, Dodge met Frank Gavin, of Armstrong Cork Company. Gavin “regaled” Dodge about ASTM. “He insisted I join,” said Dodge, who earned a B.S. in economics from Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa. Dodge did just that, and he went on to serve for 40 years as a member of Committee F03 on Gaskets, retiring in 2002. In November 2003, the committee presented Dodge with an Award of Appreciation for his service.

Michael Passarella, chair of the committee, noted, “He has contributed to the F03 committee in a rather unique way, in an unselfish, humble manner. He has worked behind the scenes all these many years and offered expert advice when he was asked. His strong suit is respect.”

ASTM has been a friend to Dodge. “I’m very much indebted to ASTM because they helped me get oriented to what I had to do business-wise,” Dodge said. Three of Dodge-Regupol’s staff serve on ASTM committees.
Today Dodge, the father of two and grandfather of five (with another due around press time), works five days a week at Dodge-Regupol, where his son Arthur III is president and CEO.

“One [son] is my boss, and one is the president of my wife’s company,” he said. Son Andrew heads wife Margaretha’s floor covering distribution firm, Gerbert Limited, in Lancaster.

“He always has a watchful eye over things,” said John Hollern, Dodge-Regupol’s industrial division sales manager. “As a person, I’d say he’s a very distinguished gentleman. He’s active in some charities and military organizations.”

Dodge’s hobbies are the ones that challenge his mind, such as completing the New York Times crossword puzzle with his wife. “I don’t whittle, and I don’t collect postage stamps. I read a lot,” he said.

And Dodge is still close to his military comrades. “We get in touch on the telephone quite often,” he said. “There’s a bond there that doesn’t break easily.”

Arthur Dodge served in the U.S. Army 88th Infantry Division during World War II.

Copyright 2004, ASTM International