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 May 2005 People

A Gracious Chemist

by Rich Wilhelm

Lyle Haack has marigolds to attend to in his garden, but when his ASTM ballot arrives in the mail, he will examine it and cast his vote, just as he has DONE every month for over half a century. As ASTM International Committee D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing celebrates its 100th anniversary, it will bestow an honorary membership on Haack, a committee member for 57 years.

(l-to-r) Current CertainTeed Technical Director Husnu Kalkanoglu, Lyle Haack, and past director Mike Noone pose together after Haack received an award of appreciation from Committee D08 in 2004.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1934, and earning his masters there three years later, Lyle Haack moved east to find work as a chemist. He found it at CertainTeed in Valley Forge, Pa., in 1937.

Haack continued to take on new responsibilities at CertainTeed, becoming a research chemist in their roofing and fiber laboratory in 1939 and chief chemist of that laboratory in 1947. In his later years at the company, Haack was appointed technical director of the shelter materials group and acted in an advisory role to the corporation prior to his 1977 retirement.

Lyle Haack has made many friends over the course of his career with CertainTeed and ASTM. Carl Cash, chair of D08 from 1996 to 2002 notes Haack’s importance to the D08 consensus process when he says, “Lyle is very knowledgeable and has often smoothed over the differences between many chemists who had no earlier experiences in roofing. I have always considered him a friend.”

“I first met Lyle in the mid-’70s when I attended certain roofing industry meetings,” says Walter Rossiter, who chaired D08 from 1990 to 1996. “My particular memories of him are that he was among the respected leaders of the industry, very knowledgeable, and very willing to spend time explaining things to a young guy totally wet behind the ears. I’ve always enjoyed his company and I think most people have the same reaction. He is quite gracious.”

Mike Noone joined CertainTeed in 1977 and succeeded Haack as technical director. At this point, Haack was “retired” but still had an office in the technical department and made himself available any time to co-workers seeking advice on roofing materials, systems and practices. “Lyle was an inspiration to many of us who succeeded him and were charged with continuing the CertainTeed tradition that he had established for developing and producing quality roofing products and systems,” says Noone. “His work set the stage for all who worked with him and succeeded him in the company.” Noone, who retired from CertainTeed in 2001, also notes that, as recently as this year, Haack has been called upon for professional advice.

Lyle’s service to ASTM International began when he joined Committee D08 in 1947. In addition to being vice chair of the committee from 1962 to 1966 and being a member of D08’s executive committee from 1962 to 1977, Haack has served as the chair of Subcommittee D08.19 on Canal Ditch and Pond Liners (1964-1977). Over the years he has been a member of Subcommittees D08.02 on Prepared Roofings, Shingles, and Siding Materials, D08.03 on Surfacing and Bituminous Materials for Membrane Waterproofing and Builtup Roofing, D08.18 on Nonbituminous Organic Roof Coverings and D08.20 on Roofing Membrane Systems. Besides working on the technical subcommittees, Haack found time to participate on both D08’s awards committee and its officer nomination committee.

Haack was the first chair of D08.19 and was instrumental in the development of that subcommittee’s first standard, D 2643, Specification for Prefabricated Asphalt Canal, Ditch and Pond Lining. The specification, which is still in use today, was published within a year of the subcommittee’s formation, an impressive fact even by today’s more accelerated standards.

Committee D08 honored Haack in 1978 by awarding him ASTM’s highest honor, the Award of Merit. Just last year, the committee honored him again with an award of appreciation for continued service to the committee.

While Haack, 92, continues to remain active in Committee D08 activities by reviewing balloted actions, these days he’s content to spend time in the garden at his home in Paoli, Pa. With a tone of understatement that perhaps reveals his Midwestern roots, Lyle Haack sums up his decades of service to ASTM International and Committee D08 by simply saying, “It’s been very interesting.”

 
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