William Harbine Hagenbuch
William Harbine Hagenbuch, age 93 of Beavercreek, Ohio died Thursday, May 24, 2012 at home.
Bill Hagenbuch was born October 19, 1918 in Muncie Indiana. At six he was bedridden for months with osteomyelitis. He occupied his mind to compensate, learning chess and playing with building toys. Perhaps then he developed his social skills, ability to delegate, positive attitude and eagerness to explore.
After a mid-year promotion in high school, Bill was transferred to the Blue Ridge School for Boys in Hendersonville, North Carolina, graduating at 16.
After a year at Miami University, which he enjoyed "too thoroughly" he transferred to M.I.T. and made the Dean's list. At M.I.T. he earned a B.S. in 1940 and a Masters in 1941 in chemical engineering. He was active in student government, ROTC and Sigma Nu.
He first worked at Hercules Powder in Delaware, earning his pilot's license on his lunch hours. In WWII he took radar training at Harvard and M.I.T., had a stint at flight training and then worked in radar countermeasures at Wright Field, near the family farm in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Bill's rare mix of technical smarts and diplomacy played out across his lifetime.
In 1944 he was sent to England with the U.S. 8th Army Air Corps where he witnessed the London bombing and liberation of Paris. While there he met American Wellesley student Grace Horner working in a civilian radar lab. After the war they married, moved to the family farm and Bill joined the family ropemaking business in Xenia, Ohio.
Over 40 years he rose to chief engineer and CEO of the Hooven & Allison Company, where he modernized operations to make synthetic rope. The Cordage Institute twice honored him as an industry pioneer.
The Hagenbuchs adopted daughters Susan, Bonnie, Christine and Kate. Bill and Grace also hosted ten exchange students and developed far-reaching friendships.
Bill volunteered with the Art Institute and Cincinnati Zoo Safari Club; was president of the Greene County, Ohio Red Cross; was a long-time member of Xenia Rotary; and was president and 16-year member of the Beavercreek School Board.
In 1947 he joined the Engineers Club of Dayton and remained a lifelong member, earning the 2005 Deeds-Kettering Award for his ambassadorship, financial contributions, and endless curiosity.
Bill continued to live to the fullest after retirement in 1986, becoming an early adopter of the Macintosh computer and member of the local user group.
In 1988 he co-founded the Beaver Creek Wetlands Association to protect the local wetlands corridor. He served as its first president and donated two properties, the Zimmerman Prairie and Hagenbuch Reserve.
He read widely in history and science and was an accomplished photographer with a catalog of over 30,000 slides. His favorite photo of a giraffe at sunset was published on the cover of the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1965. Travels with Grace and family and friends took them to Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Australia, Indonesia and much of the U.S.
After Grace died in 2003, Bill continued to "see and be seen" with the help of his four daughters and many friends. Bill was a great storyteller, and in 2008 he narrated and starred in the documentary film Ropewalk: A Cordage Engineer's Journey through History.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Grace Horner Hagenbuch.
He is survived by four daughters, Susan Martin Davidson of Los Angeles, Bonnie Martin Gordon of Portland, Oregon, Christine Martin of Beavercreek, and Kate Hagenbuch of Oakwood; and grandchildren Pamela Gordon Waldman and Jack Gordon.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions in memory of Bill Hagenbuch to any of: Beaver Creek Wetlands Association, Engineers Club of Dayton Foundation, Hospice of Dayton.
"Come safe home."