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Recognized Rubber and Polymer Expert Dies at 93

March 22, 2012
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Akron native Dr. Stephen T. Semegen, 93, long-time research official at B.F. Goodrich Company and internationally recognized authority on polymer science and rubber, died on

March 19.  

Semegen was born in Akron on Dec. 28, 1918. He attended Central High School, where he played football, track and basketball, was editor of the school newspaper, president of the student council and the chemistry club and graduated as class valedictorian in 1936.

He went on to study chemistry at the University of Akron, where he received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and a master of science degree in polymer chemistry. He earned a doctorate in chemistry from Ohio State University.

Dr. Semegen was a laboratory manager at Quaker Rubber Co. in Philadelphia before returning to Akron in 1945, when he joined B.F. Goodrich’s research department. He later became manager of rubber research, director of technical services and director of new product research.  
Over the years, he accumulated 25 patents for rubber and polymer technology, including for bullet-sealing aircraft fuel cells, radiation-resistant rubber, flexible rubber parts and gaskets for the submarines and space craft, aircraft wing de-icers, magnetic door gaskets for refrigerators, anti-static polymer shoes, breathable synthetic leather, puncture-sealing tires, synthetic chewing gum and solid center golf balls, baseballs and hockey pucks.

After leaving Goodrich in 1965, Dr. Semegen served as president and director of technical services for the Natural Rubber Bureau based in Washington, D.C., until 1980, then as a consultant for the Malaysian Rubber Research Institute for more than 20 years. He lived for several years in Kuala Lumpur.

Dr. Semegen’s writings were published in a range of publications, including Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of Materials Science and Engineering, Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, Vanderbilt Rubber Handbook, Oxford Encyclopedia of Materials and Engineering and Rubber Technology and Rubber Age. He was also a frequent lecturer at universities throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Mexico, South America, Malaysia, Japan, Europe and the Soviet Union.  

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Schmiedel Semegen, who died in 1985, his second wife Beverly Heisler Semegen, who died in 2010, and his son Patrick. He is survived by sons Stephen Semegen and Jack Semegen of Palm Springs, Calif., and Dan (Susan, the granddaughter of Harvey Firestone) Semegen of Scottsdale, Ariz.; grandchildren Michael Semegen, Peter Semegen, Sarah Semegen and Mark Semegen, and niece Donna Semegen.

Funeral services will be held March 24, at the Serenity Chapel at Laurel Lake in Hudson, Ohio.