Colleagues Mourn Gordon MacQuaker

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 07.26.07

Gordon R. MacQuaker, 93, of Boynton Beach, FL, passed away on July 16, 2007.
Mr. MacQuaker was among the key figures who built Sun Chemical Corporation into the largest company in the ink industry. He joined the ink industry in 1933 as a color matcher at Capitol Printing Ink, and moved to General Printing Ink (GPI), which would later become Sun Chemical, as a laboratory technician in 1941. In 1963, when Sun Chemical was still a $25 million company, Mr. MacQuaker was among the leaders promoted by Norman Alexander to build the company.
The elevation of Mr. MacQuaker to lead GPI was a key step. Mr. MacQuaker, who would ultimately become executive vice president of Sun Chemical, led Sun Chemical during much of its growth. He remained active until 1998, when he retired as a consultant.
Mr. MacQuaker’s colleagues remember him as a true gentleman and leader.
“Gordon MacQuaker was the greatest gentleman I ever met in my business or private life,” said Edward E. Barr, former chairman, president and CEO of Sun Chemical. “He was a great business leader and friend to me. He mentored me in the ink side of the business when I joined Sun Chemical in 1962.
“The company enjoyed a rebirth when Mac took over,” Mr. Barr noted. “He spearheaded the rise of Sun Chemical’s ink operations from number three to number one, and then worked with me as we took our objectives overseas.”
“Mac touched the lives of many people in the printing world, and I’ve been very fortunate to be one of them,” said Henri Dyner, former president and CEO of Sun Chemical. “He was certainly a mentor to me in the graphic arts industry, a gentleman and a people person. Mac approached his fellow men with genuine care, respect and the highest level of personal integrity and honesty. His managerial style could be described as an iron fist in a velvet glove, and a lot of people in private and public life could learn from that. Of all the advice he gave me, this one thing I have never forgotten: ‘Henri, it takes a lifetime to build a relationship, and it takes 30 seconds to lose it.’
“I would say that GPI was his baby – he built it basically from scratch, and it reached its peak under him. There never was, and probably never will be, another Gordon MacQuaker in the ink industry,” Mr. Dyner concluded.
Michael Murphy, another former Sun Chemical leader who Mr. MacQuaker mentored, remembered Mr. MacQuaker as “a great leader with a big heart.
“He was one of my mentors at Sun Chemical,” Mr. Murphy recalled. “He was very honest and fair, and always looked out for the people at the company and for our customers. He was referred to as ‘Mr. Ink’ around the industry.”
“Gordon was a well-respected figure in the industry and was an important part of Sun Chemical’s history as it rose to the industry leadership position that we hold today,” said David Hill, Sun Chemical president and CEO.
Mr. MacQuaker was also active within the ink industry. In 1973, Mr. MacQuaker joined the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) Board of Directors, and became treasurer in 1976 as well as chairman of the executive committee. He became second vice president in 1978 and first vice president in 1980. In recognition of his contributions to the printing ink industry, NAPIM presented Mr. MacQuaker with the Ault Award, the most prestigious award in the U.S. printing ink industry, in 1981. Previously, Mr. MacQuaker had received NAPIM’s Printing Ink Pioneer Award in 1974.
In his retirement, Mr. MacQuaker dedicated his energies to the I Have a Dream Foundation, and he and his wife Dorothy organized and solicited donations to provide scholarships to disadvantaged students.
“The passion of his life after he retired was the I Have a Dream Foundation,” Mr. Barr said. “Dorothy and Gordon adopted a fourth-grade class in an economically challenged part of the community they lived in, but he took it much further as he realized the students needed much more than encouragement. He started a fund-raising program for scholarships, ran golf tournaments, would read to the class and visit their homes. He provided assistance to help with nutrition, after school care and other essential needs as well as cultural enrichment.
“At the funeral service, there must have been 30 or 40 of the students paying their respects, and the director of the program read off the names and accomplishments of the students in the class; I counted at least 40 names of students who went on to careers ranging from medicine to engineering,” Mr. Barr added. “Not only did Gordon have a dream, he and Dorothy helped create a wonderful reality for those children and their children.
“He was the greatest gentleman I ever had the good fortune of knowing,” Mr. Barr concluded. “It was a fantastic honor to be his friend.”
Mr. MacQuaker is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two daughters, Betty and Martha; and three grandchildren.