Robert Russell Hughes, company owner, dies

Businessman founded company that sold carpet cleaning products

  • Robert R. Hughes
Robert R. Hughes
August 05, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Robert Russell Hughes, founder of Chemspec, a Baltimore company that sold carpet cleaning products to professional carpet cleaners worldwide, died July 22 from complications of Parkinson's disease at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson.

He was 87.

Mr. Hughes, the son of a movie projectionist and a silent movie organist, was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated from Northeast Catholic High School and played varsity football.

He began his college studies at LaSalle College and then left in 1942 to join the Marine Corps, where he was trained as a weather forecaster.

Mr. Hughes was sent to the Pacific Theater of operations and participated in the invasion of Peleliu. He was discharged in 1945.

He returned to Philadelphia and in January 1946 met the former Mabel Alice Roskow at an American Legion dance, and married her eight months later.

Mr. Hughes worked as a Bond Bread driver and salesman until 1952 when he took a job as a salesman for Fort Howard Paper Co.

In 1961, Mr. Hughes went to work in Baltimore as national sales manager for Solarine Co., which sold household cleaners and floor finish.

After living in Campus Hills for a year, Mr. Hughes and his family moved to a home in 1962 in Lutherville, where he and his wife would live until moving to Edenwald in 2007.

In 1968, Mr. Hughes and Daniel F. Savanuk, a chemist, left Solarine and established Chemspec, which sold carpet cleaning products worldwide to professional carpet cleaners.

Some of the company's products included Traffic Lane Cleaner for heavily soiled carpet areas, Chewing Gum Remover, Enzyme Carpet Shampoo and Biosolve, which was oil of orange, a citrus solvent.

Mr. Hughes was the inventor of the Chemstractor, a carpet cleaning machine.

In 1988, Mr., Hughes sold the company to RPM, which is a group of chemical manufacturing companies with headquarters in Medina, Ohio.

Mr. Hughes continued to work for the company until 1993, when he became a part-time consultant.

Mr. Hughes and his wife enjoyed taking trips to Seattle to visit family members.

He was communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered July 28.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hughes is survived by two sons, Robert W. Hughes of Reisterstown and James P. Hughes of Seattle; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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