HOUSTON (Aug. 30, 2010)—William E. Tessmer, longtime Exxon Chemical Co. executive who headed the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers for a decade, died Aug. 25 after a long fight with cancer. He was 81.
Tessmer spent 33 years with Exxon Chemical, working in New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, London, Brussels, Belgium, the Hague, Netherlands and Miami. In 1980 he moved to Houston, and after retiring in 1982, became managing director of the IISRP, the organization comprising nearly all the world's SR producers.
James McGraw, current managing director and CEO of the IISRP who served under Tessmer, said he was a major contributor to the IISRP during his 10 year tenure.
"He solidified our statistical program, grew our membership while at the same time managing the increased regulatory scrutiny over butadiene," McGraw said.
"Bill and I spent a huge amount of time in D.C. meeting with the EPA and OSHA staffers and it was during this time I got to really know Bill and his family. Bill's contribution to the synthetic rubber industry was acknowledged in 1998 when he was presented the IISRP general Award.
He was a great leader and a great inspiration to me."
Interviewed last year for stories marking the group's 50th anniversary, Tessmer recalled how the institute always operated with a small staff.
“In the mid-1990s the payroll had grown to an 'overwhelming' five employees,” he said. “However, this period of time also witnessed an all-time high in company enthusiasm and support for the institute activities and accomplishments.”
Tessmer was born in Minneapolis, and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1952. He attended Naval Officer Training School, was commissioned and served in the Korean War with his Naval Air squadron.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Joyce; daughters, Terri Richardson of Seattle, Wash.; Karen Graci of Charlotte, N.C.; and Leslie Crosby of Oakland, Calif.; brother Douglas R. Tessmer of Griffin, Ga.; and six grandchildren.