Refractories Industry Loses Legend with McCracken’s Death
Bill McCracken, 92, passed away peacefully of heart failure on August 6, 2016.
Bill McCracken, 92, passed away peacefully of heart failure on August 6, 2016, at his home in Lima, Peru. McCracken was a 1939 graduate of Sykesville High School and started college at the Pennsylvania State University the same year, at the age of 16. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering and a master’s in mining geology from Penn State, in 1944 and 1947, respectively. McCracken was a Lieutenant JG in the U.S. Navy, Pacific Theater, 1944-1946; he saw action at the 1945 Iwo Jima and Okinawa battles, and was involved with mine sweeping some of the Japanese islands thereafter.
McCracken’s career in the refractories industry took him to over 40 countries in search of refractory minerals. He worked for Harbison-Walker Refractories and F&S International. Some of his major projects included the discovery of arefractory-grade bauxite and kaolin deposit in Alabama that would yield millions of tons of product through the years, as well as a magnesite project in Brazil. He also spearheaded the establishment of Harbison-Walker’s Peruvian subsidiary, Refractarios Peruanos S.A., and served as its managing director from 1953-1972.
Some of McCracken’s professional accomplishments and awards include the founding of the Latin American Association of Refractory Manufacturers (ALAFAR) and the Unified International Technical Conference on Refractories (UNITECR), as well as the American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME) Legion of Honor. He was also the president of ALAFAR, an executive board member at UNITECR, a fellow at the the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), a UNITECR Distinguished Life Member, the Pennsylvania Ceramics Association (PCA) director emeritus, the Peruvian National Industrial Society’s (SNI) “Peruvian Refractory Industry Pioneer,” an ALAFAR honorary life member, and was instrumental in REPSA’s William H. McCracken Research Center. He received the ACerS Pittsburgh Section Albert V. Bleininger Award and the TRI William T. Treadennick Award.
McCracken was born in Johnstown, Pa., son of the late William H. and Bernice J. McCracken and brother to the late James L. McCracken. Surviving are his wife, Nora McCracken of Lima, Peru, four children and six grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund at www.fwsf.org.