Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rust-Oleum - The Rest of The Story

Robert Ferguson died in 1940 and the business was taken over by his two sons, Robert and Donald.  The product was initially made in 5 colors and sold only in five gallon cans.  By 1959, it was available in 185 different colors and containers from 55 gallon drum to half a pint.  The sons continued to grow and expand the business. Scientific tests were conducted by the Battelle Memorial institute and it was shown that the "low surface tension of the fish oil let it penetrate through the rust right down to the solid metal." Rust-Oleum had recorded sales increase in every year but one since 1932.

Robert, the oldest son, serving as President of the company died suddenly at the age of 46.  He died at home, 1001 Cherokee Rd., Wilmette.  He was found by his wife, Betty Ann, who called a physician neighbor, but it was too late.  Robert was a director of the First National Bank of Evanston, IL., and a member of the board of National College of Education.  In addition to his wife, he was survived by two daughters: Ellen and Laurel Ann. His funeral was held in the Presbyterian Church of Evanston.

Donald W. now takes control of the company.  "He became an Evanston industrialist and civic leader."  He was on the board of directors of Kendall college,  an elder in the Northminister Presbyterian church and a director of the Evanston Rotary club.  He was also well known in horse show circles.  He was president of of the Great American Horse Show and past president of the Mid-American Horse Show Association.  In addition, "he was a past president of the Evanston school board and active in numerous civic groups."  In Richmond, IL., Donald owned and operated the American saddle bred farm, the Royal Scot Stable.

Donald W. Fergusson at the age of 54 had just won a blue ribbon at the Society Horse Show at the state fair in Springfield.  His horse, Tijuana Brass, took first prize in the amateur harness pony stake and during the celebration Donald W. suddenly died. Both men, Robert and Donald, had given a chapel to the the Northminister Presbyterian church in honor of their father.  It was called the St. Andrews chapel.

Rust-Oleum remained a family owned company until 1994.  It is now a subsidiary of  RPM International, Inc.located in Vernon Hills, Illinois.  They have a web site where you can obtain additional information about the company.

Life continues as it always does.  The two daughters of Robert A - Sue Ellen and Laurel Ann both married.  Sue Ellen in 1969 and Laurel Ann in 1973.  Jeanne Wilson, daughter of Donald W. also married in 1971.  With some effort, I have been able to contact Laurel Ann who married an architect and now lives in San Sebastian, California.  She brought me up to date on other family members and I have mailed her copies of letters from her grandfather that were in the files of the St. Andrew's Society.  They keep alive their Scottish heritage by attending Highland Games in their area.

(Tonight, I did a goggle search for the Royal Scot Stable and connected was the name Jeanne Fergusson Wilson and her husband. Jeanne was the daughter of Donald W. Fergusson.  Will try and make contact.)

1 comment:

  1. I was wondering if you had any information on Robert Fergusson's sister who settled in Victoria, BC. She was my great grandmother, she married Hecter Turner and had 3 children Duncan, Ian(my grandfather) and a sister that past away at age 18(she was never spoken about and i don't know her name). Any information you might have would be great.
    Thank you,
    John Turner