Jack Reston Stuetz, 87, engineer, plant manager

March 22, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Jack Reston Stuetz, a retired chemical engineer who helped create Kiwi liquid shoe polish formula, died Saturday of kidney failure at Lorien Riverside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Belcamp. He was 87 and lived in Edgewood for many years.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated from Germantown High School, Mr. Stuetz earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939.

Moving to Relay in Baltimore County to become director of plant education at the Calvert Distillery division of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, he helped train its 900 employees and learned to operate equipment to make the Calvert Reserve and Lord Calvert brands of blended whiskey and gin.

He ran distilling operations in Louisville, Ky., and in Bristol, Pa., leaving in 1954 to become plant manager of Kiwi Shoe Polish, an Australian firm that expanded to Britain and the United States and was enlarging a Pottstown, Pa., division.

Mr. Stuetz wrote of his experiences, recalling how he started with "an empty factory building, a boatload of English manufacturing equipment and a penciled flow diagram of the process."

"When they had all this stuff put together, it didn't work - it didn't make satisfactory liquid shoe polish," said his son-in-law, Donald Greimel. "He was a chemical engineer and experimented until he got it right. There really wasn't an existing formula, and he came up with one."

"He used to experiment with our brown Oxford shoes when we were kids to make sure it wouldn't rub off," said daughter Carol S. Greimel of Havre de Grace. "We had plaster Kiwi statues around the house. I still have my dad's bowling shirt from the Kiwi Bowling League."

In 1959, Mr. Stuetz moved to Edgewood and began a 28-year career at Edgewood Arsenal. He worked in mustard gas research. After retiring from the federal position, he was a program manager for SciTech Services Inc., a defense contractor based in Edgewood.

"Jack did a lot of historical research projects regarding the chemical defense business that related to Edgewood and Aberdeen," said Wally Quintrell, a SciTech vice president. "He was well thought of around the office. He was in his 80s, and he still put in a hard day's work. He was a real storehouse of knowledge."

Family members said Mr. Stuetz liked to collect antiques and household gadgets, which he stored in old whiskey barrels saved from his days at Seagram. They also said that because he understood the chemistry of alcohol, he was a light drinker, but prepared excellent beverages - including a punch - for guests.

Services were held Tuesday at Calvary Baptist Church, Bel Air, where he had been a chairman of deacons.

He is also survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Hazel S. Christy; two other daughters, Barbara S. Lanford of Greenville, N.C., and Susan S. Saunders of Medford, Minn.; eight grandchildren; and a great grandson.

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