Leroy W. Shuger, a chemist whose development of reflectorized paints made the world's roads safer, died of heart failure June 6 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 87 and lived in Pikesville.
Dr. Shuger was a retired chief executive officer and the last surviving member of the founding family of the Baltimore Paint & Chemical Corp.
"He was one of the giants of the industry and he succeeded in bringing Baltimore into prominence in the paint manufacturing business," said William Wilson, a retired vice president of Van Horn Metz, which supplied pigments and resins to Dr. Shuger's firm.
"A fine person, he was admired for his technical ability in developing paints that were known for their low cost and durability."
"The biggest thing he did was have a terrific impact on highway safety," said Philip H. Knitz of Brooklandville, former president of Baltimore Paint.
In 1934, Dr. Shuger joined the family business, Baltimore Paint and Color Works, in Mount Winans. It was founded in 1919 by his father, Morres Shuger, who was penniless when he came to Baltimore from South America before World War I.
The year he joined his father and four brothers at the firm, the world's first odorless line of paints was marketed under the brand name GLEEM. Later, the oil-based Wall Fix was marketed as the first self-priming one-coat paint.
However, it was Dr. Shuger's interest and research and development of roadway paints that made the company the world's largest producer of traffic paint.
By the 1960s, Baltimore Paint had manufactured some 34 million gallons of paint, enough to paint traffic stripes around the world 85 times.
Later innovations included using glass beads to make reflectorized paint for roads and traffic signs.
Mr. Knitz said Dr. Shuger's urging helped lead Congress to approve subsidies that allowed small municipalities and counties purchase reflectorized paint for their roads.
"Because of what he did, even the most rural of roads is now marked not only in the middle but on the edges," he said. "The reflectorized paints allows an automobile's headlights to illuminate both sides of the road, making it easier for the motorist to see."
Dr. Shuger created individual customized paint formulations for traffic paints because states had different requirements and needs, according to Mr. Knitz.
"His work, which has resulted in increased traffic safety, is a great contribution in itself," said Allan W. Gates, vice president of the National Paint and Coating Association in Washington.
Edward B. Countryman of Hamilton, a chemist who was technical director of the transit paint laboratory for 13 years, recalled the days when Dr. Shuger tested the products on a stretch of U.S. 40 and, later, Interstate 70.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Countryman and Dr. Shuger developed the first traffic paint that was applied hot from a truck and dried in 20 seconds, negating the need to close a section of the road to motorists.
"Earlier paints took up to three minutes to dry," Mr. Countryman said. "With this paint, 20 seconds after it hit the road, a vehicle could drive through it without any retracking."
The reflectorized paints also are used on city streets, parking lots and airport runways.
"His work revolutionized the paint industry and it will be his legacy," Mr. Countryman said.
Baltimore Paint, on Hollins Ferry Road, was sold in 1980 and now is a division of Sherwin-Williams Co.
Dr. Shuger was born in Baltimore and grew up near Walbrook. He was a 1927 graduate of the Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1930 and a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1934, both from the Johns Hopkins University.
He was a fitness buff, and enjoyed tennis and golf.
Services were private.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Joyce Tramer; and two daughters, Jill F. Shuger of Washington and Maura Jacqueline Shuger of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 6/13/97