So long Dave, and Thank You

As I was prepping the posts for this collection of Greatest Hits, and looking at the one on HDF/MDF, I remember how he helped me with some of that material. And I thought I should reprint this article as part of the collection because he deserves another salute. And as we work through a lot of stuff dealing with TSCA, I miss him all the time.

The following was originally posted on 11/24/15:

I suspect Dave wouldn’t approve at all of having a story about him preempt a story about formaldehyde, but to my great sorrow, he’s no longer here to help me with these blogs. And since he’s not here to veto me, I’m finally going to give him the public credit he’s long deserved.

See, this weekend, the industry lost a tremendous asset, someone whose entire life was devoted to science and service. Dave Harmon was a military veteran who spent the last few decades working as a chemist in the glue industry. You’ll find his name listed on a number of patents for new and improved wood adhesives. That would be legacy enough to be saluted by our industry, but Dave’s contributions were much greater.

Dave was recognized as the go-to-guy for the real science. He was in the unusual position of being trusted implicitly by the industry, by regulators, even by environmental groups. His integrity was absolutely unimpeachable.

And he happened to be wickedly funny as well.

Dave was an instinctive teacher. He believed in making the informed decision and always held out the hope that if all the people truly understood all the facts, they’d do the right thing. He had an open door policy, sharing freely of his apparently endless knowledge. Search for his name and you’ll find powerpoint after powerpoint presentation cached on the internet. You’ll see him listed as attending meeting after meeting with associations and regulatory agencies, and you’ll find his comments attached to every regulatory proposal that impacts our industry.

We are all fortunate that Dave’s company, Hexion, is continuing to have their employees support the industry. There are some very good folks out there stepping up, providing us with science and support. But still, for me, it just won’t be the same.

Dave often proofed these blogs, making sure my science was right. He walked me through the regulations, making sure I understood all the angles and issues. He taught me about the regulatory process. For years, I asked if I could credit him but he always declined. As a result, you readers think I’m a hell of a lot smarter and knowledgeable than I really am.

It’s late in the game to say this, but he didn’t let me do it before. Let me go public now and thank Dave Harmon for his boundless energy, infinite patience, joyous laugh, and tremendous support. Almost all the good science here over the years came from him. (And it should go without saying that any mistakes were mine.)

The poet Robert Southey said, “The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired.”

I feel crippled now. In truth, all of us are. Our industry has lost a great advocate and teacher. I, and others, have lost a great friend. And we are all the poorer for it.

Dave, my thanks and be at peace. We’ll do our best not to let you down.

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