James Patrick Casey and Ruth Pownall Casey

Published 7:10 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

James Patrick Casey died peacefully on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 at White Oak of Tryon. Two days later, on Nov. 5, his wife of 70 years, Ruth Pownall Casey, passed peacefully in the room they shared. Jim was 96 and Ruth was 97.
Jim was born in Syracuse, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 1915 and was proud of his Irish heritage. He graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University in 1937, later obtaining an M.S. in pulp and paper science. His first job out of college was as a chemist for A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, a corn processor located in Decatur, Ill.
It was in Decatur where Jim and Ruth met and wed. In his memoir, “A Life and Now Old Age,” Jim writes:
“There was one girl I had my eye on. Her name was Ruth…. She looked like the movie star Norma Shearer, she had a poise, sophistication and charm that attracted me, and I was impressed that she had just returned from a trip to Europe with three girlfriends at a time (1938) when nobody strayed very far.” They were married on June 28, 1941.
Ruth earned her B.A. in French from the University of Illinois. She spent time as a secretary at a starch manufacturing company, and she was also the loyal typist for the first two editions of Jim’s book on pulp and paper science.
Jim and Ruth were loving parents to their two children, James “Jimmy” Casey and Nancy Casey, both of whom preceded their parents in death. Ruth’s innate grace and charm never wavered or aged. As Jim wrote about her in recent years, “I’ve never known Ruth to say a bad word about anyone and she ain’t stupid either.”
Jim was turned down for military service in World War II because of high blood pressure. But his job developing a special adhesive was considered essential to the war effort, so he still made an important contribution.
Jim’s career saw him serve as director of applications research for Staley and later vice-president of research and development for Union Starch and Refining Company, and vice-president and director of research for Miles Laboratories. For a time, he served as associate professor of pulp and paper chemistry at Syracuse University.
He authored numerous technical papers on starch and paper manufacturing, and was noted for his well-respected three-volume “Pulp and Paper: Chemistry and Chemical Technology,” published by Wiley-Interscience. Jim authored the first edition (published in 1951) as well as the second, and edited the third, which was published in 1980 after their retirement to Tryon. This edition was described at the time as “virtually an encyclopedia of pulping, papermaking, paper properties and uses for paper.” It was required reading for an entire industry. In addition, Jim was involved in the early development of high fructose corn syrup.
Following his retirement, Jim served in the “executive loan” program sponsored by the US government to assist third-world countries develop and modernize their own pulp and paper industries. He and Ruth spent several exciting months living in Istanbul, Turkey during the late 1970s as a result.
The Caseys moved from Elkhart, Ind., to Tryon in 1979 and became an integral part of the community. Jim enjoyed gardening and was a member of the Tryon Investment Club, which he served as treasurer. Both were avid bridge players, and they were members of Tryon Presbyterian Church.
James and Ruth Casey are survived by adult grandchildren Amy Rucker Banner of Rock Hill, S.C., and Phillip Rucker of Columbia, S.C.
There will be an informal drop-in in memory of Jim and Ruth at the Tryon Depot, 22 Depot Street, Tryon from 3 – 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13. Friends and family will gather to share stories about these two dear and gracious souls.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of the Carolina Foothills. Inquiries may be directed to Andrew Millard of Millard & Company, 828-859-7001, or McFarland’s Funeral Chapel, 828-859-9341.

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