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Celebrating all things paper: The wonder and the legacy, continued
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Ladies and gentlemen, the first class of inductees to the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wisconsin was inducted more than two decades ago in 1995, and today, more than 150 papermaking innovators and legends have been enshrined. This month, we profile the late Morris W. Kuchenbecker, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Morris W. Kuchenbecker was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, July 15, 1928. At age 16, he worked for Ernst Mahler (1996 Hall of Fame inductee) as a gardener and occasional chauffeur. He graduated from Neenah High School in 1946, after which, he attended the Menasha Vocational & Technical School located in Menasha High School. He attended construction classes while working for his father's construction business. Dissatisfaction with construction led him to take a job at the Institute of Paper Chemistry container laboratory.

He started working for Marathon Corporation in April 1948, and worked for the succeeding American Can Company and James River Corporation, retiring in 1992. He served as supervisor of the carton design department from 1954 to 1967, and as senior package design engineer from 1967 until his retirement.

During his career, Mr. Kuchenbecker had the unique ability to furnish packaging creativity on demand. He worked very closely with other product development personnel and machine development companies to furnish the customers with complete systems to take their products to market.

Mr. Kuchenbecker invented the first half-gallon ice cream carton to run on an automatic filling machine. He invented the only widely-used paperboard carton for the packaging of bacon. After exclusive manufacturing rights expired, many companies nationwide continued its manufacture. He also invented a combination paperboard carton inserted into a clear plastic sleeve. This carton won the Gold Award for Structural Design in the 1983 National Paperboard Packaging Competition. Perhaps the largest sellers invented by Mr. Kuchenbecker were ice cream cartons, bacon cartons, Waxtex boxes, frozen food cartons, and a microwave cook-in carton widely used by Pillsbury, Green Giant, Birdseye, and others.

In his 44 years of service, he amassed 79 U.S. patents in the area of package design directed toward the dairy, meat, frozen food, and other related businesses. He also is the recipient of 14 foreign patents in various countries. During his career, his inventions resulted in an estimated production of 393,000 tons of paperboard to manufacture nearly 11 billion packages.

Civic activities included service on the Board of Appeals for the City of Neenah, and as a leader for the Neenah Boys' Brigade.

Mr. Kuchenbecker and his wife, Jean, had four sons, Steven, Dennis, Rodney, and Timothy, and one daughter, Julie. Mr. Kuchenbecker passed away Dec. 22, 2020 at the age of 92.

Steve Roush is Vice President, Publisher and Editor and in charge of the International Desk at Paperitalo Publications. Many thanks go to the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame, Inc., for biographical information on Hall of Fame inductees.

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