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Distinguished past-president of IULTCS dies

Dr Hubert Wachsmann, one of the most distinguished past presidents of the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS), has died in Switzerland. The team at World Leather sends its condolences to his wife and family. He was only a few weeks short of his ninetieth birthday.

Hubert Wachsmann’s career began with Roser in Germany, from where he joined the leather department of Geigy plc in 1961. This took him into senior roles at Ciba-Geigy, from where he retired shortly before the company merged with Röhm and Stockhausen in 1996 to form Together For Leather, TFL.

In a statement confirming Dr Wachsmann’s death, the executive board of TFL said: “He received numerous awards for his foresight and dedication to leather chemicals and the leather industry. We will honour his memory with gratitude.”

At the IULTCS Congress in Philadelphia in 1989, the organisation elected Dr Wachsmann as its president. He said that the growing importance of Asia to the global leather industry was very clear to him at that time. During his term as president, and then during his ongoing involvement with IULTCS as a still hard-working past-president, he said he was delighted “to direct attention towards the emergence of Asia as a whole” and to see national leather chemists’ and technologists’ societies across Asia become more and more influential in IULTCS affairs and committees. 

Later, he became a consultant editor of World Leather and contributed advice and encouragement for many years. He also contributed to the magazine a number of influential articles, in which his deep knowledge of his chosen subject was always evident, as was his ability to explain his ideas clearly and succinctly. 

In one of those articles, in 2004, he said presciently: “Scientific theory plays a central role in understanding the complex process of tanning. This is important. However, it does not explain how to produce a very soft leather without weakening or loosening the grain, or how to keep the butt as flat as possible and still fill the empty flanks. Tanners still await helpful theories that can be applied to the problems that they permanently face.”

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