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The Remarkable ASTM Career of D01’s
John C. Weaver

by Cicely Enright

When introducing himself, John C. Weaver recently said, “I’m the D01 politician.” If you substitute D01 for government in the Merriam-Webster definition, “a person experienced in the art or science of government,” you only begin to understand Weaver’s decades of dedication to ASTM Committee D01 on Paint and Related Coatings, Materials, and Applications, and the ASTM voluntary consensus standards system.

Weaver’s dedication comes with an agenda, one based on a vision that has always had the advancement of D01 and voluntary standards as motivation. Current D01 staff manager Tim Brooke notes that Weaver’s influence on D01, its operation, its subcommittees, and its standards development work, grows out of Weaver’s “ability to look into the future and know what changes are needed to address future needs that no one else sees except him.” And, Brooke continues, Weaver has the ability to convince those around him of these needs.

That dedication and vision span some 59 years in the remarkable ASTM career of John C. Weaver, who is almost 95 years of age.

Education and Career Highlights 

Weaver received his B.S in chemistry from Denison University in 1930, and that same year he began his graduate work at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry. In 1936, the year after he completed his doctorate, Weaver joined the scientific staff at Sherwin-Williams Company in a career that would continue to 1979. He retired in 1974 as director of research but continued on as a consultant.

Soon after he became part of the Sherwin-Williams staff, Weaver also began his long-term association with Case Western Reserve University, where he coordinated and supervised the Sherwin-Williams catalyst laboratory on campus. He describes himself as an occasional visiting lecturer; he also served as a thesis advisor and as an advisor for industry-supported graduate coatings fellowships. Weaver still maintains an office at Case as an adjunct professor of macromolecular science and lectures graduate students on coatings science and technology.

When asked about his accomplishments in his career, Weaver brings up a system still in place today in Sherwin-Williams — that of a six-digit code for paint materials that he began to develop in the late 1940s. The structure, only slightly changed some 50 years later, classifies the materials by class, subclass and composition. 

The other work Weaver mentions as career highlights includes research on raw castor oil; his contributions also include important efforts related to paint and coatings. He investigated temperature vs. humidity effects on the drying of glyceride oils, and novel acids for the formation of carboxylates of cobalt, manganese, lead, zinc, and other materials for use as oxidation catalysts in drying oils.

The Early ASTM Years

Weaver’s exposure to ASTM International began in 1944, with an eye-opening meeting that established for him the concept of open cooperation between producers of paint components and the users of those paints. He traveled to an October 1944 meeting of the D01 subcommittee on drying oils in Philadelphia, Pa., filling the roles of both the producer and user representative of Sherwin-Williams. The topic was castor oil, and there were representatives of Baker Castor Oil and Spencer Kellogg there as well. His early research included work on the dehydration of raw castor oil and its use in paint.

The wonder of that early meeting for Weaver is one that he still marvels at, one where, he says, “producers can meet without fear of anti-trust or price-fixing — that’s ASTM.”

In the 1940s, Weaver remembers, “the ASTM staff was much smaller, and much of the current staff manager’s job was done by D01 officers.” There were only three D01 officers, a chair, a vice chair, and a secretary, he adds, who ran the committee. Many years ago, Weaver recalls, Walter Gloger was secretary of D01, and between Walter and his secretary, Weaver says, they used one-third of their time to do D01 work — with the company’s approval. Also at that time, representatives from Sherwin-Williams and National Lead, which made paint components, were largely responsible for committee operations.

Not long after he became involved with ASTM, Weaver was recruited by his Sherwin-Williams boss to become chairman of D01 Subcommittee IX on Varnish. He recalls that the late Arthur B. Holton, with paint industry-famed Ed Fasig, told him he had just volunteered to be in charge of that group. Thus began his continuous work as an officer of the committee, which included a term as D01 chairman from 1984 to 1989.  

And Those Organizational Skills

Weaver must have learned from the tactic that brought him to chair a subcommittee because fellow D01 member and chair of D01.94 on Awards and Memorials, Thomas Sliva, recalls a similar story. “I have served as the awards chairman for D01 for the last 10 years. As I remember, I was a fairly new member to D01 back then and was walking down the halls between meetings when I was cornered by Scott Orthey, our D01 staff manager at that time, and Dr. Weaver. They more or less told me they wanted me to be the awards chairman, as my previous boss had served in that position before retiring. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to respond, so I finally said that I would accept the position if I could have ‘someone of the stature of John Weaver as my vice chair and next to me when I present awards.’ John’s reply was, ‘What stature? I’m 84 and shrinking.’”

On the subject of awards, both D01 and ASTM have recognized Weaver for his contributions to the committee. An ASTM fellow and Award of Merit recipient, which honored his contributions in 1968 (contributions that continue to this day), Weaver has also received the Robert J. Painter Memorial Award and the D01 Honorary Member Award. The committee also established the D01 Dr. John C. Weaver Excellence in Leadership Award in 2000, and he was the first recipient.

Weaver is now honorary chairman of Committee D01, a role that seems particularly appropriate given that its current structure comes from his capability to look at the overall picture. As just one example of his considerable organizational skills, Weaver molded a somewhat random set of groups into more thoughtfully crafted subdivisions for D01’s 40 subcommittees in January 1965.

Other professional associations have also acknowledged Weaver’s contributions. An honorary member of the Cleveland Society for Coatings Technology, Weaver has also received the George Baugh Heckel Award, the highest honor conferred by the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology. Weaver still maintains professional affiliation with the American Chemical Society, Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology, and its constituent Cleveland Society for Coatings Technology, and the Cleveland Association of Research Directors.

His work for other organizations has at times given Weaver the opportunity to continue to advance ASTM work. While serving as the technical editor of the Journal of Coatings Technology, then the Journal of Paint Technology, Weaver saw to it that D01 subcommittee summaries were included in the publication beginning in 1966, a practice that continues today. While he was editor, the publication became a refereed work where it previously had been the Official Digest of the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology.

Weaver’s service also included a term from 1977 to 1980 on the ASTM board of directors and from 1976 to 1977 on the Committee on Technical Committee Operations. While a board member, he was responsible for removing the numerology on the society ballot, an action that he felt was important because it simplified and speeded up the process.

A Love of History 

Weaver knows a great deal about D01 history from its inception in 1902 as Committee E on Preservative Coatings for Iron and Steel, and the work of ASTM founder Charles B. Dudley on the subject. He possesses a collection of historical information on Committee D01 — as of several years ago, he had weighed it at about 55 kilograms — and has recounted some of that history in “Paint Bridges This Century,” published in the May 1998 SN.

In that piece, Weaver notes that the society was originally the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials. And he says he is happy with the global appellation, ASTM International, that the society now has, although he hints that perhaps a different one might have been his preference.

In “Paint Bridges The Century,” he recounts information about the history of both paint and D01. From Dudley’s testing of paint on the Havre de Grace, Md., bridge over the Susquehanna River, which Weaver says “may still be the most extensive and expensive round robin in the history of D01,” to information about volatile organic compounds and lead in paint, Weaver provides both scientific information and anecdotes. For example, he recounts the introduction of Kem Tone, when it “exploded into a household word … This waterborne paint contained oleoresinous fortified casein media as a major advance over Tom Sawyer’s historic whitewash.” That helps to illustrate current D01 chairman Eugene Praschan’s observation about Weaver: “He has an unbelievable recollection of detail and a unique way of expressing himself.”

Weaver’s attention to detail and interest in history extends to his family history. He notes that he has been studying his ancestors since 1930 and that he has “a huge accumulation of paper on the topic.” While he has written a short narrative about the Weavers, including the 1637 marriage of Edward Weaver and Mary Skidmore at St. Brides Church in London in 1637, he feels that the sorting will probably end up being a task of his son and daughter. Weaver seems to prefer to focus his energy on the future — that of Committee D01.

The Future Is Where It’s At 

Never one to rest on the accomplishments of the past, John Weaver continues to exert himself on what he sees as the direction in which ASTM and D01 need to go. As Praschan says, “John is not satisfied with the status quo. He is always looking for opportunities to improve a situation.” Weaver has a number of items on his list.

Weaver emphasizes the importance of ASTM’s involvement in the international standards arena, of which the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 35 on Paint is part. He recounts that he has been involved in the hosting of ISO/TC 35 in the past and that he has helped bring ASTM standards developed by D01 into ISO as well. But, TC 35 needs a strong leader, and “[ASTM standards] dominate the world,” says Weaver. “We need to recognize that and build on it.”

And there is more on his agenda: Weaver notes that it would be a good thing for D01 to return to the process of having D01 officers formulate goals for the upcoming year. In times gone by, he recalls, subcommittee chairs were asked for next year’s plans by the end of August, which would be a good thing to do again, Weaver says.

Weaver has also used his influence to involve others in ASTM work and continues to encourage additional D01 membership. George Pilcher credits John for single-handedly energizing Pilcher’s interest in volunteer service to the coatings industry, and he believes that he is not the only one so influenced by the elder statesman of paint. But, Weaver notes, D01 will do better to attract new members by developing a new prospectus, including marketing data, for potential members. Because members need to be technically proficient in their subjects, Weaver believes the prospectus, which would cover the scope, administration, and make-up of the committee, would help “to do a better job of recruiting D01 members.” In fact, Weaver has recently faxed information to Tim Brooke on this very subject — and so continues his work to propel D01 activities into the future. //

Copyright 2003, ASTM

A former ASTM staff member who began working for the Society in 1980, Cicely Enright has continued her association with ASTM since leaving her position on Standardization News in 1988 by working as a freelance writer, editor, and indexer.